Saturday, October 15, 2005

VVS L-ax(ed)man

The squad for the first 2 ODIs was announced yesterday and once again there's lot of talk about VVS Laxman being omitted. Many claim that he has been given a raw deal inspite of his brilliance with the bat.

Lets make ourselves clear. Test and One day cricket are two entirely different ball games. They both need different qualities and not all can adapt themselves to the nuances of the two formats. Test cricket needs a player to be good at what he is capable of doing. Either batting or bowling. One need not be versatile but one has to be brilliant in his sphere of excellence. That explains why we have had Shiv Sundar Das, Devang Gandhi, Akash Chopra, Sadagopan Ramesh, Tinu Youhanan, Debashish Mohanty, Abey Kuruvilla and others featuring as specialist batsmen or bowlers in the test teams of the past. Its altogether different story that they lost their way due to poor performance. But what I would like to say is being good in one aspect of the game is fair enough to claim a place in the test side.

But one day cricket is much different. We need batsmen who can roll their arms and bowlers who can weild the willow and all must be sharp in the field. Does anyone honestly think that Laxman deserves a place in the one day side. Agreed he is a classy, wristy stroke maker. But one day cricket needs improvisation in batting which he totally lacks. Coming to the crease in the middle overs he cannot score more than a single with his lazy coverdrives in a spread out field. Next is his poor running between the wickets and judgement of the fielder. With Laxman being a senior member, I have never seen him run as hard as Kaif, Yuvraj or Sachin.

Many can argue saying that he has scored nearly half a dozen hundreds for India in ODIs. But I dont remember any match winning effort by Laxman with the bat. He might have scored 100s, but those would have come in situations where 150 was possible and this guy, because of his lack of adaptability would have missed out on many scoring opportunities.

Next is his poor fielding. All these days he was made to stand at slips as Dravid was donning the gloves until recently and he had fumbled many a times even with simple sitters. Being a poor athlete, he could not save the crucial ones and twos that can later prove costly in the match.

Dravid was once in a similar state in the early 1998 season when he was considered only for the test team. But he learnt his lessons quickly and has now risen to the level of captaining the team. I don't know why Laxman is not working on his abilities and then rightfully claim a place in the ODI squad. He still is an integral part of the test team, but IMO he needs to improve a lot before he can appear in ODIs.

Another name in the squad that puzzles or rather irritates me is Ajit Agarkar. How many more chances will he be given? For Indian cricket he is a shooting star with brilliance in 1998 season and inconsistency since then.

A few new faces are welcome. Lets see how they fare at the international level.There might be some changes in the squad after first two ODIs. Ganguly might be included but who will get the axe???

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