High time Laxman is given a fair run in the one-dayers

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V.V.S. Laxman. FILE PHOTO: N. Balaji
V.V.S. Laxman. FILE PHOTO: N. Balaji

Vijay Lokapally

Extraneous forces should not be allowed to dictate selection matters; Laxman is available for selection only for the fifth ODI, says Vengsarkar

NEW DELHI: Flying to South Africa as a replacement for Rahul Dravid does not open the one-day cricket doors for V.V.S. Laxman. But it does open a small window of hope.

If Laxman can grab the opportunity and, if provided a chance, make a decent score, only then can the stylish Hyderabad batsman expect the National selectors to rethink.

For the moment, to put things in perspective, Laxman will play the fifth one-dayer only if required. So says the National selection committee Chairman Dilip Vengsarkar.

Baffling decision

Greats like Ian Chappell, Barry Richards and Allan Donald have frequently questioned the wisdom of leaving Laxman out of one-dayers. On perpetual trial, the classy Laxman has had to curb his sensational strokeplay due to the pressure of performing all the time. Former India opener Navjot Singh Sidhu is quite vociferous and unsparing in his criticism of the selectors and the administrators. "They have allowed things to come to a stage where someone like Laxman is condemned to play Ranji Trophy and a nondescript batsman like Suresh Raina is elevated to international cricket. What a shame. Raina should be playing first-class cricket and not Laxman," he says.

Laxman can take solace in the fact that at least he was found worthy of replacing Dravid in times when unqualified cricketers, only because they happen to be young, enjoy the support of the selectors. Not that Laxman needs to prove his credentials.

Vengsarkar's views

"Let me make one thing clear. At no point have I doubted his fitness at the Test level. At no point did I rule out Laxman from the one-day scheme of things. All I had said was that he has to achieve the fitness level required for one-day cricket," was Vengsarkar's admission.

What can Laxman make of this sudden recognition of his awesome batting potential? Vengsarkar observes, "He is available for selection only for the fifth one-day match. We have picked him since he was going to join the team for the Test series and this would allow him to acclimatise. But we all know Laxman is a fantastic batsman and I am a huge fan of his. He has played some great innings for India. There can be no question about his ability. The doors are not closed on him."

Fielding worries

On his fielding, Vengsarkar is candid, "I think his movements (read running between the wickets) are slow. But I know he can improve. There is no doubt he has to work hard on his fielding."

Here, Sidhu makes his point. "He is a better fielder than many in the current Indian team. I think it is a matter of convenience. Laxman is picked only when the going is tough. It is time we had sensible selection."

Extraneous forces should not be allowed to dictate selection matters. Laxman has suffered enough.

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