India have lost seven overseas Test matches on the go and in all of those Tests, they have crossed 300 only once. This from an experienced batting line-up consisting of some terrific players. Something has to give. After the Perth debacle, calls have become louder and if reports are to be believed then VVS Laxman might have played the last Test match of his scintillating career.
In back-to-back series defeats in England and Australia, Laxman's poor form – 182 runs at 22.75 in England and 102 at 17 in Australia – suggests that he is struggling to merit a place in the final Test in Adelaide. Though his fans and well-wishers will hope he continues on at the highest level, the truth is that the time has come for Laxman to leave with dignity and grace. With India unlikely to play a Test series before August, it is difficult to envisage Laxman remaining in the selectors’ plans for the next eight months.
It can be argued that Laxman is being targeted, that he is being made the scapegoat while India as a team continues to falter. It was not so long ago he stood alone and fought out Dale Steyn and Co. in Durban to lead India to a famous overseas Test win. He achieved similar feats against Australia – who can forget the one-wicket win in Mohali? - and Sri Lanka as well. In the West Indies Laxman contributed runs when an inexperienced team needed. But at the age of 37 going through a rough patch is a very difficult situation.
Will Laxman come out of it? Will he be given the opportunity to do the same? Well, the BCCI should not forget what he has done for this team in the past. How many match winning knocks he has played and how many times he has helped India out from difficult situations. Indeed, Laxman is India's greatest second-innings batsman, averaging 49.08 in the second innings. With the series in Australia already done and dusted, Laxman surely deserves one last chance to prove his true class. He deserves a farewell in Adelaide rather than sitting in the dressing room.
The Indian team has thrown its weight behind the veteran. Gautam Gambhir has come out and said that Laxman has the right to decide when to go. "He has been a legend of the game. He has served Indian cricket for a long, long time," he said on Tuesday. "There should not be anyone [else] who should be deciding about his retirement. It should be him. Whenever he wants to take it, he should take it."
Indians love clinging on to the past glories of their stars and questions will be raised regarding appropriate replacements, but time and space has to be allowed for a new core to be nurtured before favourable results. There is no replacement for Laxman, so the BCCI should give youngsters like Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara more chance to show their true class in the Test arena. The current crop of youngsters needs to be inducted and given the confidence and security to express themselves. A few failures have to be accounted for, which should not deter the focus. If the BCCI is really serious about India's Test future then the time has come to give rookies the chance to show their class. Enough persisting with Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina.
If indeed the rumors are true that the decision has already been made on Laxman, let us thank him for some wonderful memories. Batting was rarely, if ever, made to look as easy as when he was in touch. A sublime player. A true gentleman. What more can anyone ask for? He indeed is Very Very Special. Here's hoping we get to see his sublime touch in Adelaide.