For a moment imagine what would have happened if Lakshman had never been there in the Ramayana. Would there have been a Ramayana at all? Not at all. But the story of the Indian cricket team is very different from what was written by the great sage Valmiki in the Treta Yuga. The writers of this story never felt the need of a Lakshman, but were forced to feature him in some chapters because of his sheer brilliance. To these writers, it makes no difference to the Indian cricket team whether or not VVS Lakshman wields the willow.
Although most characters in the story of the modern Indian cricket team are vanaras, the only difference between these vanaras and the epical ones is that the former are show-offs while the latter won every battle they fought. As for the leaders, the new age vanaras are led by some heroes who relish grinning from ear to ear on TVs and billboards while the latter concentrated in leading their army to victory. The new age vanaras and their leaders are more like traders, not warriors. How could you expect a warrior of Lakshman’s stature to fit in with them? How many times have you seen him asking you to buy this particular life-insurance or that particular bike? This is not the job of Lakshman; his duty is to fight and man, he did that in style.
All through his career, the 37-year-old VVS Lakshman didn’t disappoint the true patrons of the game. He has been one of the greatest cricketers India has ever had and perhaps the only one who received lesser accolades than others. To the Australians – India’s arch enemy in cricket – getting his wicket was nothing less than a miracle. Such was Lakshman’s importance to them that the Aussies often rated him above Sachin Tendulkar. It makes me wonder what would have happened had Lakshman been an Australian player. His retirement would have been ceremonial so to say the least.
Apart from his cricketing skills (which are now being spoken very highly of in almost every article), VVS Lakshman was indeed a very very special man. His specialty was in his character. A man of a very high upbringing, VVS Lakshman was like a true gentleman among a bunch of hot-headed retards. Unlike most Indian cricketers, he never bad-mouthed anyone and was so highly respected by his adversaries that they themselves never used their regular cuss words in his presence. Lakshman has been such an impressionable person in the game that he could, perhaps, have at least taught the vanaras how to behave both on and off field.
The writers of the new story hunt for endorsement-worthy faces whether or not they have any talent. They do not want long five-day battles where the returns are low.
But this is not the Treta Yuga and here lies the problem. When Lakshman started his career in 1996, it was an entirely different period. The game of cricket had a lot of art in it and maintained its distinct class. Lakshman did have had his share of glory but they were few and far between. Moreover, he was a contemporary of a handful of other greats who too contributed immensely to the cause of the game. If Lakshman’s indispensable contribution was overlooked then it was because his image was more like that saintly warrior who never took the credit of victory.
The writers of the new story hunt for endorsement-worthy faces whether or not they have any talent. They do not want long five-day battles where the returns are low. The shorter ones can be made to look more interesting and are also open to some… umm… controversies. There was no place for a character like that of Lakshman.
India has galloped to becoming a country where many people have suddenly become rich without attaining the sense to handle it. The same affected the world of cricket. The game of cricket, at least in India’s way, ceased to remain of the class in which Lakshman played. It became artless and craftless; more dramatic than sports. Lakshman was a sportsperson not a dramatist.
The Lakshman of the Ramayana accompanied his brother Ram who was sent to a 14-year exile along by their father. That has been hailed as the highest duty of a brother. For the cricketer Lakshman, there was no Ram to accompany at the end of a great international career. The truth is that he was himself the Ram of Indian cricket – ideal, artistic and humble.