Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Promote Laxman

With the forthcoming retirement of Sourav Ganguly and the apparent decline in Rahul Dravid’s batting, the selectors and the Indian cricket watching public need to truly appreciate the class of V.V.S. Laxman's batsmanship. Over the last couple of years, Laxman has at times held the middle order together single-handedly and yet when the thought of playing an extra bowler arose prior to the Delhi test match, it was Laxman who was in contention to be left out. In spite of the shabby and at times ludicrous treatment that he has received from the selectors, Laxman has gone on with his game with minimum fuss and the greatest of elegance. Laxman’s batting average of 56 over the last couple of years is testament to his ever improving temperament and application, espescially considering the fact that most of these innings' have come with him batting at number 6.

Laxman’s wristy panache has always been a sight to behold and over the last few years he has tightened up his game to ensure that he is always there when the team most needs him. The famous double century at Calcutta, the stroke filled century at Adelaide and the sublime half centuries at Perth and Johannesburg stand out amongst the most regal of Laxman’s contributions to Indian victories abroad. His unbeaten double hundred at New Delhi against Australia in the third test was a reminder to one and all of both the beauty and the dexterity of his batting. In an era typified by the belligerent brutality of twenty-twenty cricket, Laxman’s artistry with the bat has been a throwback to the good old days of orthodox cricket.

Considering the imminent exits of some of the senior cricketers, Laxman in my opinion deserves a permanent promotion to the number three spot, a position from where he can dictate play and set the tone for the innings rather than salvage positions of distress. I am not suggesting that Rahul Dravid’s position is in any doubt. He has time and again demonstrated his immense value to the team and might still have a lot to offer to Indian cricket. But keeping in mind the fact that the test team as a whole is in a state of transition, it might be wise for Dravid and Laxman to swap positions in the batting order. Some of Laxman’s most memorable innings’ have come at the one-down position and I believe with his technique and temperament and his ability to score at a good clip, he will be perfectly suited for the vital spot. Laxman’s performances against the Australians shows that pressure rests easily on his broad shoulders and I am convinced that he needs to be entrusted with greater responsibility, especially considering the current state of the team.

Dravid’s retirement may not be immediate, but one can say with reasonable surety that it’s not too distant. The selectors would certainly not want to put additional pressure on the likes of Rohit Sharma and Subramaniam Badrinath by playing them right up in the order. This is where the precedent set by Australia can be used to good effect to ensure a smooth shift from the days of the ‘fab four’ to the younger generation of talented batsmen. Australia reaped rich rewards by promoting Justin Langer to the opener’s spot and Ricky Ponting to the crucial number three spot after the departure of Michael Slater. Similarly with Mark Waugh’s retirement came Damien Martyn’s promotion to number 4 which proved to be an exceptionally successful decision for the Aussies. I feel a similar tweaking of India’s batting order could ensure a fairly easy transition for what has always been India’s biggest weapon in test cricket.


The Reluctant Rebel said...

Fair point. Still waiting for a post on the prince.

Suhrith said...

Haha! There is such a lot to say about him, that its going to be difficult to put it in one post. But I shall give it a go.