Vengipurappu Venkat Sai Laxman has always been one of my favourite test cricketers. But I, and many others I am sure, have sorely missed watching him in action in many games in the recent past where he was very unfairly sidelined. However this time round Laxman has made sure the selectors cannot turn a blind eye at him by scoring that typical free-flowing Laxman 95 in the first warm-up match leading to the England tour. But then, unbelievably, even that cannot guarantee a place for the flamboyant, free-stroking in the team. What that innings will ensure, as I said before, is only that he will be in contention for a spot.
To qoute Siddhartha Vaidyanathan from Cricinfo:
Early in his international career, he was caught between opening the batting and playing in the middle order; now he often faces the dilemma of whether to flow or graft. Initially he struggled for a place because of the batting riches India possessed; recently he's lost out, twice in the last year, to the five-bowler experiment. For the first few years, everyone waited for the real VVS Laxman to emerge; of late they've longed for the real VVS to re-emerge.That is the kind of life Laxman has led in international cricket. The once celebrated Hyderabadi hailed as 'Very Very Special' Laxman man has had to go against his natural nature to try and satisfy the unrelenting selectors. Really, it wouldn't be very unfair to say that the selectors policy of 'promoting youth' has pushed him out of the fray so many times that the pressure on him to perform well and prove his natural ability has had a major hand in some of his failures at the international level.
Even this time, I wouldn't be surprised if Ganguly and/or Yuvraj are selected ahead of Laxman for no apparent reason other than that they have done well in recent one-dayers. What the selectors don't understand is that one-day international cricket and test cricket are totally different forms of the game and anyway Laxman never got a chance to play in the one-dayers at all. Irrespective of how much Laxman toils, I fear it will again be the same old story for Laxman: 'I am disappointed at being left out, but I will perform well and hope to make a comeback soon'.
Though I hope the selectors are somehow convinced by Laxman, if his past trysts with them are any indication, he will have a tough time finding a place in the squad inspite of being so deserving of one. Yet I hope.