Given his reluctance to say anything that might ruffle feathers and his decision to not make bold statements when he doesn't have a bat in his hands, it was understandable when VVS Laxman let every loaded question go by after his century in the third Test against the West Indies.
It was just the right time for him to declare that he did not like the way he is being treated. Not only was this his 10th Test century, it was also possibly the difference between a draw and defeat -- as also a huge reconfirmation of the cliché that form is temporary but class is permanent.
It couldn't have come at a better time because it was not long back when the team banished him to the bench when it decided to accommodate an extra bowler at the expense of a batsman. Even before this Test, there were whispers that that fate might overtake him again as he hadn't scored big in the first two Tests.
For the umpteenth time in a career spanning 11 years, the Hyderabadi bounced back -- not with vengeance but with an innings full of the qualities opponents revere but people closer to him often overlook. Still, probably conscious of what impact his remarks could make, Laxman insisted there was no bitterness about anything.
“I don't think about things which are beyond my control. Being dropped or being retained is not in my hands,” he said.
“My job has always been to try my best whenever given a chance and it's no different now. I am happy that this century came at a time when the team needed it. It's good to have competition among the players. Every good team has it.”
“My job is to control the situations I can and other issues really don't matter when I go in to bat. It was important for me to get a big score here after playing a few bad shots earlier in the series and I am happy to have scored a century when the situation demanded it.” Laxman was clearly aware of how his words were going to be interpreted.
He was right, actually; not just because what impact spicy statements can make in the media, but also because he didn't really need to say much. Whatever he had to say, he had said with the bat when the team was reeling at 150-odd for five against a mediocre attack on a good batting pitch.
For a player who has been forced to bat at every position from No 1 to 6, the West Indies will always remain special. It was here in 1997 that he had to open because there was no berth for him in the middle order, it was here in 2002 that he scored a century at No 6 because there was no slot in the upper order and by a queer quirk of fate, he has now scored a century batting at No 3.
Very few Indian teams have had the dubious distinction of treating a player of such class with such disdain. At 32, Laxman still has something to offer at the highest level, which this century proves. It's time men who die for youth let him enjoy the last few years of his career. By every estimate, they will also enjoy what they see.