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The willow story

V.V.S. Laxman talks about his memorable moments on the pitch and his role now as a mentor

Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Laxman comes across as a happy man — on and off the field.

During his best times, he’d be playing cricket for the country in whites and decimating the opposition (mostly Australia) with his flamboyant flicks and stylish drives. Today, post-retirement, he’s still a busy man, pursuing his other passions. In the city for the launch of parentcircle.com, the cricketer opens up on how his upbringing helped him become a national star, his memorable moments on the field and more….

What keeps you active post-retirement?

Travelling has obviously come down… but my wife still complains that I travel a lot! ( laughs) I’ve started a foundation that helps educate disadvantaged children. I give a lot of motivational talks and share my experiences with youngsters who’re interested in sports. I’ve started an academy in Hyderabad recently. Also, my wife has started a playschool, and I’m supporting her in that venture. In my career span of 16 years, it was always cricket and that was happiness for me. Now, I’m able to do other things that give me joy.

Despite being good in academics what made you opt for a career in sports?

It was a big decision and I had to take it when I was 17, just after I completed my class XII. What helped was the conviction of my uncle and mentor, Baba Krishna Mohan, who had more belief in my cricketing abilities. He persuaded my parents to give me a chance to pursue my dreams. My parents, both established doctors, were gracious enough to give me that freedom; not many parents actually do that. This was in the early 90s, when cricket was not like how it is today. At that time, my parents and I made a pact of sorts — I was given five years to fulfil my dream of playing for the country. If I couldn’t do it by then, I would have to study medicine. See, it’s important to have a timeline to achieve your dreams.

During those years, your confidence must have been on a high as you were performing well…

I got that confidence when I was 19, after the under-19 Test series against Australia and England. I was the highest run-getter in both those tournaments and I knew that I had it in me to perform at that level.

Your 281 against Australia at Eden Gardens remains etched in memory…

It was a special Test match, not just for me but for the entire Indian team. In fact, it remains special even for the Australians playing that match, as they regard that series as the best in their careers. Personally, it was satisfying and special to win from a horrible situation.

Now, with active cricket behind you, are you looking at a bigger role as a mentor?

I’ve been fortunate enough to mentor the Sunrisers and the Hyderabad team. I’m now in the advisory committee of the BCCI, and thereby, get to offer suggestions on how to improve the game and increase the bench strength. All the experiences that I have gained in my career — it’s important to give back. I think all my colleagues from that era are trying to do that.

Are you imparting to your children, the same lessons that your parents taught you as a child?

If I am a good father today, the credit for that goes to my parents. The joy of parenting is seeing your kid growing every day and knowing that you are helping him in that.

My son is eight and my daughter is six. As parents, we help them experience everything that the world has to offer and then decide what’s right and wrong.

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 2:12:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/the-willow-story/article7607916.ece

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