By his own admission, V.V.S. Laxman hasn’t batted better than on India’s tour of Australia in 2003-04. “I had complete control over my instincts, and I executed my game plan to perfection,” the Hyderabadi stylist has written in his recently released autobiography titled ‘281 and Beyond’.
Laxman tiptoed to 494 runs in four Tests at 82.33 and followed it up with 443 runs – 3 centuries in a week included – in the tri-series that followed against the hosts and Zimbabwe. However, when he arrived in Pakistan a month later, his form deserted him. Following a right knee injury that forced him to miss the first One-Day International, he managed only 27 runs in his next 3 innings. Each time, he was either bowled or trapped leg before by the ball coming in, a technical shortcoming instigated by the injury.
“We had an optional session at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore a day before the final ODI, with the series tied at 2-2,” he writes. “I told John (Wright, the then coach) that I wanted to sort out the technical glitch, so I wanted as many net bowlers as he could muster. I requested our video analyst Ramki (S. Ramakrishnan) to record my batting. Any one of the net bowlers could have played for Pakistan – they were that quick and could swing the ball. I had an hour-long batting stint. Every ten minutes, I went out to Ramki to see the recording. I was closing my left shoulder, which was dragging my left leg across. I struggled for the first half-hour, but as I started to work on my shoulder position, I started hitting the ball a lot better.”
It’s something we have come to take for granted in the last decade and a half, the access to instant video replays that lay problems threadbare and allow recalibration of the human body and mind to initiate corrective counter-measures. The identification of the problem was the first step towards redemption. Having real-time technology to constantly monitor the biomechanics of his body in order to eradicate a minor technical flaw with major implications was the second tick in the box. Laxman’s genius and his ability to adapt instantaneously rounded off the exercise. It was no surprise that, the following day, he blitzed 107 off 104 deliveries, an epic compilation that muscled India to their first ODI series triumph across the border.
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About the Writer
R Kaushik is a Bangalore-based cricket writer who has been writing on the sport since 1991. He is the co-author of VVS Laxman's autobiography, 281 And Beyond.