Mumbai, Aug. 19 -- Four days to go for the Test, the home association heavily dependent on his name to market the game and the team management in the final process of putting together its strategy for the series. It is at this stage that a key member of the side has decided to declare his innings.
There was no better timer of a cricket ball than VVS Laxman, but it seems he got it somewhat wrong while making the biggest decision of his career in declaring his retirement on Saturday.
Training as hard as ever for the last one month, working out at the National Cricket Academy, and buoyed by a big hundred in a local tournament, Laxman looked set to play the entire home season of 10 Tests till a few days back.
The trigger that perhaps made Laxman rethink his decision to continue was a couple of critical columns this week by some respected names in Indian cricket, saying how his selection was not in the best interest of Indian cricket.
Selectors in poor light
The episode has shown the Krishnamachari Srikkanth-led selection committee in poor light as it has highlighted a glaring lack of communication between the selectors and the players.
A decision which could have been made simple with a frank discussion with the player, was left to linger on. It became a case of who will bell the cat when four of the five members -- in the last few months of their term -- conveniently shied away from taking the tough call.
A poor advertisement for the Indian cricket system, it has defeated the idea behind having paid selectors for the purpose of accountability.
A likeable bloke, Laxman was the most gentle of characters in the India dressing room, and should have been easier to take into confidence. Instead, he was left to face the torment since the Australia series, where the writing was on the wall when he finished with 155 runs in eight innings at just 19.37 in the four straight Test defeats.
In a decision which looked retrogressive, the selectors went ahead and picked him for the home series against New Zealand, much to the surprise of many.
State body shocked
Understandably delighted with his availability, the Hyderabad Cricket Association was looking at the August 23 game with great expectations, all set to cash in on the dream script of having its most bankable star playing his last game at home.
The decision to retire with immediate effect came as a bolt from the blue for the local association and his close circle.
His coach, John Manoj of St John's Sports Coaching Foundation, told HT: "When he told me about it, the decision was quite shocking. We were looking at not just the New Zealand series, but also the series against England," said John.
In what could be a small consolation for his association, teammates and friends, he apologised for the timing: "I agree I have disappointed my well-wishers, starting with my family. They must have wanted me to play the last Test at Hyderabad but I apologise for probably not giving them the opportunity to see me (in action) for one last time," he said.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.