In the world of Indian cricket, VVS Laxman is, in Bollywood lingo, the typical anti-hero who runs against the stereotype. While others are larger than life, he is disarmingly low profile and underrated. But, make no mistake, Laxman is a genuine star whose cricket and personal conduct is straight.
Right through his long and glittering career, Laxman has shunned the glare and instead focussed on the job at hand, which is to make runs and shoulder arms to everything else. No wonder he is absent from Page 3 and missing from fashion shows.
He has an eye for judging line and length but refuses to use the same skills by becoming a celebrity judge in reality shows. Despite admirable footwork even on difficult surfaces, you will not find him shaking a leg in TV dance shows. Ignore all this, Laxman hardly features in any sponsorship deal and was without a bat endorsement for a long time!
Laxman, the batsman, is a retro player, his batting stamped with a style that was popular a generation ago. Those days, artful players stroked shots, not clobbered the ball; good batting meant subtlety and charm, not brute force and raw power. He rejects any form of crudity and is thus unsuited to the coarse demands of T20 cricket.
Though Indian cricket has several instances of players moving up to open after a stint in the middle order, Laxman decided to swim against the tide and dropped down the order after a brief spell when he went out first up. In that position, he made a blazing 167 from 198 balls out of India's 261 in Sydney, yet set his sight on making the number 6 slot in the India team his own.
The grace and style in his batting is for all to see, but the solidity and determination goes unnoticed. In Tests, he bats in moments of crises, that too in the company of the tail, his task made tricky because the selectors always seem to be searching for an opportunity to replace him with a youngster! Hopefully, Laxman's latest match-winning knock will dampen their enthusiasm.
Laxman's journey is a story of terrific achievement combined with humility and modesty. There isn't a more likeable person than VVS on the cricket circuit. In Australia, he is rated as high as Sachin Tendulkar; in India and elsewhere he is mentioned as an example that good guys also win.