VVS Laxman’s philosophy in life is simple — to not let age come in the way of progress. That’s probably why he played till 37. The retired India great from Hyderabad turned 40 exactly three weeks ago but his attitude to life continues to be the same — to explore fresh avenues for growth.
“For people, 40 is a big number, but what’s the difference if you are 39 or 40. It’s all in the mind,” said the cricketer who has two double Test centuries — both against Australia — to his credit.
Laxman spoke to HT on various issues, from India’s gruelling tour of Australia to his plans of opening a cricket academy next year.
How do you feel India will fare on the tour of Australia?
Well, India have a very good chance. They have the potential and the talent. In my opinion, the first 10 days will be crucial; how well they negotiate the bouncy pitches will be crucial. I think India should have got two four-day games, instead of two two-day games. But they don’t have a choice and will have to make do with what they have to acclimatise to the conditions.
The key is how well our fast bowlers get used to the conditions. With Umesh Yadav giving a good account of himself in the one-day series against Sri Lanka and Mohammed Shami getting his rhythm back, I think, along with Ishant Sharma, they will forge a good combination. As for the batting, I think, the moment you put up a good score, you would put Australia under pressure.
What is the biggest issue in terms of technique India will have to overcome Down Under?
Picking up the length. Adjusting to the variations in length early would be crucial. It’s important to get used to the bounce of the Kookaburra balls, which have thick seam and can trouble you initially. The key is how well you play out the new ball, especially the first 15 overs and how you value your shots.
Do you think India will be able to live down losing three consecutive Tests (against England) going into the first Test at Brisbane?
My philosophy is to not carry the mental scars of the previous series. The team should look at the success of the one-day series which followed the 1-3 Test loss. They should look at the positives of how well they batted and bowled to win the first Test at Lord’s...those are the positives the team should take to Australia.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli had a poor series in England, why? And what they need to do now?
Yes, Pujara had issues with deliveries coming in while Kohli had problems with the away-going balls. No doubt, they had a terrible series in England, but we should remember they are exceptional players and they will be looking forward to having a bigger series (in Australia). The hallmark of these players is to keep improving and that’s what they will do.
Is batting second difficult not just in India’s context but generally?
It’s (batting second) always a challenging proposition. I feel, it is all the more important if one is playing a Test series in India where pitches start deteriorating from the third day and it becomes important to assess the situation. Abroad (Australia, England), pitches usually ease out after the second day.
How big a factor will be Mitchell Johnson?
Everyone here has this apprehension that Mitchell Johnson will be more than a handful for India. But, I’ll say here that we’ve always played Johnson well. Having said that, the boys shouldn’t be overawed by the opposition. I usually don’t predict the outcome. But if India play to potential they should do well.
You are planning a cricket academy....
Yes, I plan to call it the VVS cricket academy. There is plenty of talent in the country and I want to pass on my experience to the youngsters. It’s just about moulding talent.