Very Very Silky
Any physicist worth his salt would tell you that it’s simply impossible to play that way.
Sehwag isn’t so hot on foot movement either. And you might argue, entirely persuasively, that Sachin comes close in the timing department. Dravid’s flicks on the legside can be justifiably compared, and Ganguly in his pomp could unleash the same kind of effortless cover drive that Mr. Silken Wrists essays routinely. But for the entire package in all its beguiling, bewildering munificence, there is, and there can be, only one resplendent artist.
When it comes to using the bat (and I choose my simile with care) like a wand, there probably is none in the entire history of the game who can stand shoulder to shoulder with VVS Laxman. None, bar none.
He just stands there, seemingly loose limbed, slouching in his stance, almost. He waits for the bowler to run up, and shuffles at about the point of delivery – almost reluctantly. But in that split second between the actual delivery and the desultory chase that the fielder gives to a ball that is speeding to the boundary, he does something that simply cannot be understood. The eyes pick up the line and length, the mind chooses the shot, and the shoulders, elbows and wrist coordinate to produce a symphony that we mortals can watch, but never understand.
Because, you see, you just can’t do as Laxman does. You just bloody can’t.
I’ll blaspheme a bit now, if you’ll excuse me. Even Azhar doesn’t have a patch on Laxman when it comes to magic. Oh I know, I know – Azhar used to flick balls that were practically chest high outside the off stump through midwicket for four. Sure, but for all round mastery, I’m telling you – Laxman is unique.
Watch him as he unfurls a cover drive, for example. I’ll tell you exactly which cover drive as well – the one where he just lets the ball come up to him, and then gently angles the bat towards the offside. There’s zero… ZERO… followthrough. None whatsoever. No force, no push (howsoever gentle), nothing. It’s as if Laxman is gently asking the ball if it wouldn’t mind scurrying down to the boundary, now there’s a good chap. Oh, and would you mind avoiding those baggy greens along the way? Much obliged, dear sir.
And the ball gets a move on, obediently. Next thing you know, the fielder’s picking up the ball from beyond the boundary. Pause, rewind and watch again. But you just can’t explain it.
Because it’s magic, of course. That’s why you can’t understand it.
But hey, who the hell wants to understand it? I don’t go watch magic shows to understand how it’s done. I go to be astonished, amazed and awestruck. I don’t want to be told how it’s done, because understanding magic is ruining magic.
I just want to watch, and watch and watch my favourite sorcerer at work. Twice, preferably.
VVS Laxman, ladies and gentlemen. Magic.