VVS Laxman's autobiography reproduces moments from an illustrious career
Cricketing biographies are treasured for anecdotes. Laxman does not disappoint the reader on this count
- Published 7.12.18, 12:58 AM
- Updated 7.12.18, 12:58 AM
- 2 mins read
Asked to address his teammates on earning his maiden Test cap, the genial V.V.S. Laxman recalls in this enjoyable book written with R. Kaushik that he had struggled for words. Just then, Javagal Srinath, “a senior member and prankster”, chimed in with the following words: “Show some respect, man. Stand on the chair and talk to us.” Laxman obliged, perhaps inadvertently sealing his image as a soft-spoken person. One suspects that the mild-mannered Laxman had made it easier for the powers that be to drop him before the 2007 World Cup, an incident which, this book reveals, rankles with the elegant Hyderabadi. But Laxman’s steely resolve on the field is legendary. The opening chapter describes the fruits of such nerves of steel — that magical innings against Steve Waugh’s marauding Australians in Calcutta.
Readers would also be surprised to know that Laxman could choose to be not-so-gentle as well: after the team bus had left him stranded in South Africa he — quite rightly — took Guru Greg and his captain, Rahul Dravid, to task for their insensitivity. This, along with his appraisal of Sourav Ganguly’s abilities as a cricketer and a captain, should ensure steady sales for the book in this part of the world.
Cricketing biographies are treasured for anecdotes. Laxman does not disappoint the reader on this count. The bit about Ishant Sharma playing the role of Basanti in a rendition of Sholay — Virender Sehwag played an obsessive woman fan of Harbhajan Singh in an adaptation of Singh Is King — is delightful. 281, like most books in this genre, reproduces moments, bitter and sweet, from an illustrious career. Discerning readers would also benefit from Laxman’s cool analysis of the distinct styles of the coaches, desi and foreign, that he served under.
But what makes Laxman’s retelling refreshing is his eye for aspects of a modern cricketer’s life that often elude scrutiny and comment. For instance, Laxman reveals that while standing in the slips with Rahul Dravid — they were two of India’s most dependable slip-catchers — they would talk of the life that lies outside the game: children’s schooling, vacations, even the modus operandi of wedding receptions. These candid recollections are a reminder that cricketers are flesh-and-blood creatures, not the gods that they are made out to be in India.
There is something here for young players too. They can certainly learn from Laxman’s sharing of his experiences of coping with the rigorous demands of tours to countries with vastly different cultures and cuisines.
281 and Beyond By V.V.S. Laxman, Westland Sport, Rs 699