Grace. No other word can better define VVS Laxman in full flow. The easy elegance with which he drags a ball from outside the offstump and, with a subtle twist of his wrists, deposits into the square leg or mid on boundary is a sight to behold. Anybody else doing this will come across as a crass cross-batted slogger. Is he the same person who looks so sluggish while running or fielding? Oh, if Laxman can bat the way he does, I wouldn’t mind him not scoring a single single.
To come up with a name to rival him in style and grace, one will have to search outside cricket to discover names like Federer, Maradona, Mohammed Ali and no less.
But unlike these illustrious names, Laxman finally may not find a place in the history of cricket alongside a Sachin or Lara. There lies the mystery. It is an interesting psychological puzzle to see some people perform better only when the challenge is the stiffest. While his place in the team is always in doubt against every other side, he is the best batsman against the best side in the world. And he has proven that repeatedly over the years. Why? How do you classify such players? He is not a mere giant-killer who has an occasional good run. Everytime he goes out against the Champions, he has conjured up magical stuff.
If one measures the potential of a person by how well he stands up to the sternest challenge with a remarkable effortless ease, Laxman must rank among the greatest champions. It is unfortunate that his overall record does not reflect this. He is like an Iron Man champion who might struggle to win a half-marathon.