VVS Laxman speaks to ANUJ KUMAR about cricket for the blind and his hopes for the Test series in 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 for blind cricket 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 the sport. To me it's not only noble but exciting as well." Exciting! "I agree at a time when most sports are being played for the television audience, blind cricket doesn't have that commercial appeal. But why compare it with international cricket? Treat it as an independent format and you will find it interesting to watch. I have watched some matches and the fitness, the courage and the spirit of these specially-abled sportsmen really kept me engrossed, specially, the India-Pakistan match. I feel corporate entities should support the cause because the facilities need to be strengthened."
Watching the blind cricketers play, Laxman, known for his finesse at the crease, says the belief that cricket is not just about raw power and technique is strengthened. "Here abstract things like hand-eye coordination and flair also play a major role." He can't name any particular 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 get some time out of my schedule, I will definitely give some tips to the Indian team." He will however be seen on CNN IBN, the media partner of the event, promoting the sport. Unlike his contemporaries, the classy batsman is hardly seen promoting products. "It is not deliberate, I hardly get the offers."
Overlooked for the Champions Trophy and the recent One Day series in South Africa primarily on fitness grounds, Laxman says 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 the immaculate line and length of Pollock. 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 serve us well."Of late people have found a strange link between those who are in the One Day squad and the endorsements. It is alleged that performance on the field is overlooked for the duration for which a player has lucrative commercial contracts. "I don't want to go into it, because if I do I won't be able to remain positive. 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 vein he adds, "Playing in the World Cup is my dream. Last time I missed out because of some reasons, this time I want to realise it."