On drawing Laxman rekhas in tough times

On drawing Laxman rekhas in tough times

Rahul Dravid speaks at the launch of VVS Laxman’s autobiography in Bengaluru on Thursday. DH PHOTO/ SRIKANTA SHARMA R

When legends of the game decide to catch-up, it’s bound to be nostalgic. Just like a school or a college reunion, the occasion was going to be filled with recollections, banter and fresh memories to take home.

That’s exactly what happened on Thursday evening when illustrious Bengalureans Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath got together to promote their famous colleague VVS Laxman’s autobiography “281 And Beyond”.

From Laxman recalling his first-ever meeting with Dravid wearing Roger Binny’s shirt, to Dravid poking fun at the former’s obsession of marking his crease, to Laxman accusing ‘senior’ Srinath of ragging him and the latter threatening to ‘sue’ Laxman for giving false information… the fine winter evening had plenty for a cricket lover. Bringing extra warmth at the gathering was the presence of Gundappa Viswanath, Erapalli Prasanna and Roger Binny, making it an occasion to remember. 

Laxman and Dravid kick-started the evening by revealing they hardly spoke to each other during many of their match-winning partnerships, blaming each other for their non-communication.

“Given the situation we were in, we didn’t have much conversation," said Laxman. "We just used to punch our gloves and say one more over. We broke it down into small goals, as an individual, we just wanted to play every ball on its merit. Not once did we feel complacent. Just a month before the Kolkata 2001 Test match, we played a game against West Zone in Surat, I got a double hundred and Rahul got a hundred, we had a big partnership. Batting with Rahul, the talk was very minimal, both of us allowed each other to play their style of cricket. There was serenity when batting with Rahul,” added Laxman before Dravid interjected.

"Like he says rightly, there wasn’t a lot of conversation between us," said Dravid. "And part of the reason was because Laxman, I don’t know if he has mentioned in the book, had so many of these routines. He’ll tap the gloves and he’ll go to the crease, then he’ll mark seven times this side, six times that side. He was in such a rush to get back to do all those lines, that there was no time to have a conversation. I’m waiting there to talk to Laxman and he’s busy marking lines. I used to always pull his leg about it. And just to pull his leg while batting, I would just walk away and he’ll say ‘Come here’ and tap the glove and draw those lines” joked Dravid, evoking huge laughter from the audience.

“See who is talking, a guy obsessed about routines,” Laxman replied.

“You had a lot more than me yaar,” pat came Dravid’s reply.

Dravid then ceded the stage to Srinath and Kumble and the banters, laughters and appreciation increased several notches.

“My first Test match was in Ahmedabad (in 1996) and as was the norm, they asked me to give a speech," said Laxman. "I was very emotional and I started talking. I was very diplomatic, courteous, thanking each one, telling it was an honour and privilege to be playing with some of the role models I’ve grown up being inspired. There was (Mohd) Azharuddin, (Sachin) Tendulkar and even Anil. Suddenly I could hear one voice. ‘You don’t respect the seniors. I want you to stand on the chair and give your speech. Show some respect man.’ And that was from Javagal Srinath. I missed the university life. When you go to degree college, there’s a lot of ragging. In that Indian cricket team, I was ragged by a senior in Srinath. Even till date, he continues to rag me!” said Laxman, grinning ear to ear.

Pacer Srinath then responded in kind. “My first interaction with Laxman was in England. Laxman story is not true. And if it is in this book, I’m going to sue him actually. He has some grouse against me and Venky (Venkatesh Prasad). We treated him very nicely. Anyways, I remember Laxman not talking much those days. But now he talks non-stop for 30 minutes.”

The legends kept going at each other and even threatened to reveal some well-kept secrets before calling off the night on a celebratory note.