VVS Laxman set to retire

VVS Laxman is slated to make an announcement about his retirement from international cricket later today. The Hyderbadi batsman has called a press conference in his hometown at 4 pm.

Laxman had been selected for the two-match Test series against New Zealand that begins on August 23rd. He is expected to announce that this series will be his last for India. The first Test will be played in Hyderabad from August 23rd – 27th and the second Test will be held in Bangalore from August 31st – September 4th.

News of Laxman’s decision to call it a day emerged on Friday when The Hindu ran a story stating that the stylish batsman was visibly hurt by comments that by continuing to play for India he was blocking the chances of youngsters. The report quoted Laxman saying, “"A final decision will be taken about the exact details of my retirement plans by this [Friday] evening."

The Telegraph has reported that one of the five selectors spoke to VVS Laxman over the phone a few days prior to the August 10th selection meeting -

According to a top source of The Telegraph, the gentleman was unusually blunt: “You’ve served Indian cricket exceptionally, but after (the failure in) Australia, we were expecting you to quit...

“This committee doesn’t want to end your career, but there’s just no guarantee how our successors will act... So, it’s up to you.”

The R word wasn’t specifically used, but Laxman was clearly advised to call it a day.

The Times of India has quoted an unnamed former teammate of Laxman saying that,  "Laxman has decided to announce his retirement from international cricket on Saturday. He spoke to me this morning (Friday) and said he is quitting Test cricket."

The ToI report also quotes Laxman's first coach John Manoj of St John's Sports Coaching Foundation. "Yes, Laxman spoke to me about it. We had a long chat on the issue. Though he has been selected for both Tests against New Zealand, I think Laxman is most likely to quit after the Hyderabad Test," said John.

Laxman’s place in the Test side has been under constant speculation since India’s eight consecutive away Test losses last year.

Laxman’s performances in both England and Australia were far from the standards he had set for himself in the past. The Hyderabadi had a torrid run Down Under, totaling just 155 runs across eight innings at an average of less than 20.  His fitness and running between the wickets have also often come under scrutiny.

37-year old Laxman, who made his Test debut against South Africa at Ahmedabad in November 1996, has played 134 Tests for India, scoring 8781 runs at an average of 45.97, including 17 centuries and 56 fifties.

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