'Just getting to play for India is a dream come true'

“My explanation for this longevity is very simple” Laxman added. “It’s a dream for anyone to represent India in cricket. My one single focus has been to do well through the game of cricket. That has been my driving force, helping me work hard and remain committed. I have had to go through various phases in my cricketing career but I have consistently worked hard to try and keep improving, to sustain myself, because it’s a rare opportunity for an individual to represent his country in international sport.”

To play for as long as he has, Laxman went on, was very satisfying. “In a country where cricket is more religion than sport, just getting a chance to play for India is dream come true. To play my first Test was special, to play for 15 years is a great feeling. It’s a proud moment for me and my parents. I wanted to become a doctor, my family is full of doctors and engineers. Coming out from there, to play professional cricket for this long gives me a lot of pride and pleasure.

“I was lucky that by default, I didn’t play too many one-day internationals, there was a lot of break in between. I was not happy about missing one-day cricket, but in hindsight, it is perhaps a good thing. That’s why someone like Sachin is a unique cricketer, he has been playing for more than 22 years, and he has been playing in both formats of the game.”

Asked if he felt he felt blessed to be involved in the golden era of Indian cricket, the soft-spoken Laxman replied, “I am not one to compare eras because I have been been involved in other eras, and there have been a lot of great eras in Indian cricket. But yes, I am very happy to have played alongside some of the greats of the game. As a team, we have progressed a fair bit and achieved a lot. The one single factor that all of us take great pride in is that in our period, our overseas performances have improved tremendously.”

To Laxman, every innings that has helped the team win from a tough position or to escape with a draw from a home is a special one.

“They need not be a hundred. I am very happy, I have got the opportunity to play some match-winning knocks, nothing gives me greater joy than that.

“Even though I am not someone who gets easily satisfied, I am very happy with the way things have turned out in my career,” added Laxman, a man of few regrets. “But I know you can’t get satisfied, because once you get satisfied, there is no further scope for growth.”

Laxman’s take

Three top moments:
*  Winning the Adelaide Test in 2003. It was a tough Australian team, to beat them in their backyard was special.
* Becoming the number one in Tests. I have not played a World Cup or won a World Cup final, but getting to number one in Tests was similar to winning the World Cup.
* Series wins in England and West Indies. After all, how you perform overseas is how you are judged.

Three worst moments:
* Not being a part of the 2003 World Cup.
* Being dropped from the ODI side after my comeback, though I was playing well.
* Losing any match. Nothing hurts more, nothing brings as much despair.
 

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