Time to go, says the magician of wristy elegance
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Wrists tucked well within the long cuffs of a sharp pin-striped suit, VVS Laxman held son Sarvajit with one hand and daughter Achinta with the other on the sprawling outfield of the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. In just a few days from now, five to be precise, on this very same ground, those hands were expected to form perfect catching cups at first slip or grace the rubber handle of his willow with firm precision.
On Saturday, however, the molten-flex pair of wrists trembled and dry palms turned sweaty as he used them to pick up a piece of paper and a microphone, and called time on an enthralling 16-year international career instead.
"I would like to announce my retirement from international cricket with immediate effect," Laxman said in front of his emotional family and proud colleagues from the Hyderabad Cricket Association. In one statement, Laxman, 37, quelled all rumours of his plans to retire after the two-Test series against New Zealand, the first of which is to be played at his home ground. And just like that, he also ensured that his bond with best mate Rahul Dravid went well beyond the boundary, as the pair that once forged many career-defining partnerships on the pitch and took several vital catches at slips also ended up playing their respective final Tests together in retrospect—the 298-run loss to Australia in Adelaide, January 2012.
"I always kept my country's success and needs ahead of my personal aspirations," he said. The eight consecutive losses in away Tests had rankled through the system, forcing the selectors to look beyond the legends for the future. Laxman, like Dravid, got the message. "I would have loved to play against England and Australia later this season. But it is the right time to give a chance to the country's youngsters in home conditions, well ahead of overseas assignments next year," he added.
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