Do not miss the Third Test; do not miss it, to see us win, to see the Windies fight back hopefully (and they will, just as they did in the second innings in Eden), to see Sachin score his 100th ‘you-know-what’, to see Dravid continue his exquisite curtain-call, to see Yadav scatter some more stumps, to see Dhoni dazzle again.
But, most of all, to see Laxman – VVS Laxman... to see him bat, to see him paint his boundaries across the canvas of the field with such wristy wonder, to see that lean of his body over the bat, those long legs almost ill-at-ease.
The bat in his hand is like a half-forgotten promise as the bowler charges in – the bandana shyly peeking out of the helmet – those eyes focused and yet at peace. And then as the ball, red and round, hurls itself upon him, Laxman unfolds, unfurls. And suddenly, with not a flick of the wrist, but a flourish, the ball, pitched outside the off-stump, is speeding – gliding – to the mid-wicket boundary, and two fielders give token chase, knowing that pursuit is as futile as chasing a rocket on Diwali night, a comet in the empty heavens, a kiss after it has been blown to the beloved.
See the Third Test – VVS is not going to be with us forever and when he is gone, we will never see another like him... ever. Fragile grace, elegant effort, lean ease – Laxman. Yes, he did not score in England – the ball moved too much, the bowlers were too lethal. Yes, he was exposed but any artiste, from Picasso to Pataudi, has been exposed – you have to be exposed, for an artist always takes risks – and it when those risks come true, when the dab to third-man is a whisper of grace, when the flick to mid-wicket is a gasp, when the cover-drive is an unexpected give of delight – that is when the risk becomes the reality, when VVS Laxman is alive.
And in the Third Test, even if Laxman is out for a duck, watch him – for he is Test cricket. And I say this not in nostalgia, but in full faith in the future, Test cricket is not dead – no matter how hard people try to kill it, it will survive because Test cricket is VVS Laxman’s canvas, and as long as artistes like him paint their innings, we will watch again and again.
I love to watch him run between wickets, almost as if not wanting to leave home, he strolls to the other end – if the non-striker is considering a second run, he must first get a visa from Laxman, and when it is given, with a shrug and a slight grimace, the applicant knows that he has been blessed.
His knees seem to ache, his back seems to be in pain – but in his hands, his wrist, his arms are the sinews of sensual ease, and in his eyes, is the vision of a Sufi, who knows that god lies within, and that the boundary line is but a line, to be crossed again, and not attacked.
VVS Laxman worships his own art, without pride or prejudice – and his mandir, his cave, his mountain – is the Test cricket field. Watch the Third Test – watch, and be blessed – when the India team comes out to field, see how Laxman is both aloof and yet a part – and when he comes out to bat, take a cup of tea, and sip and sigh as he paints his next portrait – a self-portrait, which you will be blessed to watch.
Updated Date: Feb 03, 2012 14:44 PM