VVS Laxman speaks to ANUJ KUMAR about his role as ambassador of cricket for the blind and his preparations for South Africa
It is common to find celebrities promoting a cause that is in fashion, but VVS Laxman, the stylish cricketer, has chosen to be different. He is the ambassador of cricket for the blind in the country. "When George Abraham (Chairman of the Association of Cricket for the Blind in India) approached me, I accepted it as an honour. Whenever he calls me I try to be there to spread awareness about this variety of cricket. To me, it's not only noble but exciting as well." "I agree that at a time when most sports are being played for the television audience, blind cricket doesn't have that commercial appeal. But it is unfair to compare it with regular cricket? Treat it as an independent format and you will find it interesting to watch. I have watched a few matches and I could not but admire the fitness, the courage and the spirit of these specially-abled sportsmen. A match played between India and Pakistan was of high cricketing quality and it kept me engrossed, says Laxman, adding that this form of cricket required and deserved support from corporate entities. "The facilities need to be improved ."
Known for his finesse at the crease, Laxman says cricket for the blind supports the belief that cricket is not just about raw power. "Flair also play a major role." He says he can't name any player, but points out that a couple of batsmen from Uttar Pradesh are very good. "I found the Pakistan team really strong." He is looking forward to the World Cup for the Blind starting next month in Pakistan. "See, if I can take time time out from my schedule , I will spend it with the Indian team, offering them tips." As of now, one this is for sure - he will be seen promoting this form of cricket on CNN IBN, the media partner of the event. Unlike his contemporaries, the classy batsman is hardly seen endorsing products. When questioned about his reluctance to promote brands, he says, "It's not deliberate, I hardly get the offers."
Overlooked for the Champions Trophy and the one-day series in South Africa primarily because of his fitness , Laxman points out that he is `fit' and playing domestic cricket. "Through with Duleep Trophy, now I am looking forward to the Test series in South Africa. We will leave in the first or second week of December." As for the bouncy tracks and the South African pace battery, he says, "I am prepared for the bouncing ball and Pollock's immaculate line and length . Our performance during the last series in South Africa was not bad and the happy memories of the Australian tour in 2004 where we proved equal to the world champions will motivate us to perform better."Laxman refuses to comment on controversies surrounding cricketers and endorsements. "I don't want to go into it. I am an integral part of the Test team and want to hold onto my place by some good batting display in domestic and international cricket."But in the same breath he adds, "Playing in the World Cup is my dream." He was out of the squad for the last World Cup, but the new brand ambassador of cricket for the blind is positive about his chances, this time around.