A Very Very Special Friend

Have you ever had a friend that you depend on without really being overtly worried about where they are at this very moment? The kinds you don’t bother to call for days and weeks and months, but you know they are there. The conversation with them starts seamlessly every time. Irrespective of the break. Maybe not so often, but they are the ones that you call when you really need to talk.

Today, I can feel a void. One such friend has decided to call it quits. Not be there. A very very special friend.

A little too much is said about Tendulkar (who kept me interested in cricket in an era where there was hardly anything going for indian cricket fan and all the “talent” was in Australia, Pakistan or West Indies), Ganguly (who brought the spunk in the team with shirtless heroics), Dravid (the wall that stood tall), Dhoni (the deliverer of the world cup), etc. But not so much about Kumble.. and this very very special guy from Hyderabad, Vangipuruppu Venkata Sai Laxman.

As a young cricket fan, I watched every match, every series, every tournament. Always hoping, never believing. Always knowing that it’s possible, always scared that it won’t happen. And then, “it” happened. On the third and the fourth and the fifth day of a test match in Eden Gardens. And whether I accept it or not, that was the day I stopped being scared. He became the friend that I did not talk about too often, but always knew that I could depend on him. He might have failed me a couple of times, but that’s ok. I never burdened him with the weight of my expectations, and he never acted like he didn’t care.

Dravid once wrote – “Nothing calms you like Laxman”. So true for the fans too. And while saying that, I am not discounting what a Sehwag or a Tendulkar or a Dravid had done already or were doing. But, here is a cricketer who did not have the odds going in his favor, who was the favorite scapegoat on the sacrificial altar, and who had been left out more often than he was called in. For a batsman of his caliber to not have played the world cup despite a 16 year long career, would be considered blasphemous in many countries, and I struggle to find an example so intimidating for the opposition, yet so indifferently treated by his own countrymen. And in the middle of all this, that sense of calm is enviable. I remember that 5 second jumper from Michael Jordan in 1998 against Utah Jazz. The remarkable thing was the sense of calm as he went up, and time stood still for a moment, as he downed the jumped. If I had to take a bet on someone who could do something similar for Indian cricket team, it would have to be VVS. And nothing brings it to the fore as acutely as the test match against west indies.

As Mukul Kesavan points out in his article in Telegraph today, someday, the statisticians will discount the value of VVS by looking at his sub-50 averages that “will strike the future fan as pedestrian”. But while the phone minutes run higher for your most recent girlfriend, the value of that single call made to that dear friend in that moment of need cannot be quantified. And you, VVS, have been one of the dearest friends of Indian Cricket.


(Image Courtesy: HindustanTimes)

About Amit
Conventional, boring, believer, poet, Shayar (to be precise), lover of music, musical instruments, and all that can be called music (theoretically or metaphorically), jack of all master of none, more of a reader less of a writer, arbit philosopher, foolish debater.. and many more such things.. like so many people!

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