The stumps were drawn on a Very Very Special era in Indian cricket on Saturday as Vangipurapu Venkata Sai Laxman announced his retirement.
Interestingly, the Test veteran chose to quit the game at a time when he was included in the squad for the home series against New Zealand starting August 23.
The first Test was in his hometown Hyderabad. He informed the selectors he would be retiring with “immediate effect”.
Laxman, 37, said he listened to his inner voice to come to this “tough” decision — just like he had 20 years ago when he gave up aspirations of becoming a doctor to take up a career in cricket.
“Till late last night, I was not able to make up my mind. But in the end I listened to my inner voice,” he said. “It’s been 16 years since my international debut and I think it is time to move on, to give youngsters the opportunity.”
The most elegant batsman in the famed Indian line-up of the noughties, the Hyderabad stylist debuted in 1996 and scored 8,781 runs with 17 centuries in a career free of controversy.
He is India's fourth-highest scorer in Tests after Sachin Tendulkar (15,470 runs), Rahul Dravid (13,265) and Sunil Gavaskar (10,122). “I have always kept the country's success ahead of personal aspirations... I am grateful to the Almighty for blessing me to live my dream of playing cricket.”
The call taken, Saturday morning was spent informing teammates.
“The past 4-5 hours were emotional, talking to my colleagues with whom I've shared the dressing room. I have not been able to get in touch with 'MS' (Dhoni) as he is very hard to reach,” he said.
Laxman will be best remembered for his epic 281 against Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, which helped India beat the tourists after following on.
Tendulkar, the last man standing from Laxman's era, led the tributes: “When I walk out to play in Hyderabad I will feel a deep void. “A void that can never be filled. My dear friend VVS Laxman, one of the best players Indian cricket has seen and I have played with, will no longer be with me.
"Indian cricket lovers, and the game of cricket itself, will miss him for the elegance and grace he epitomized on and off the field," said BCCI president N Srinivasan.
The fall looks imminent