The Indian cricket fraternity today paid glowing tributes to VVS Laxman, who announced his retirement from international cricket with immediate effect, describing the stylish batsman as an exceptional cricketer who excelled in pressure situations.

Laxman’s teammates such as Sachin Tendulkar said that they will miss him in the dressing room and the void left by him will never be fulfilled. Former captains such as Sourav Ganguly and Dilip Vengsarkar also hailed the stylish batsman for his outstanding career.

“When I walk out to play in Hyderabad, I will feel a deep void. A void that can never be fulfilled, My dear friend, VVS Laxman...” Tendulkar tweeted.

Dilip Vengsarkar said that Laxman is a cricketer who emerges once in a generation.

“Laxman has had an outstanding career. He is one of the few batsmen who was a great chaser, an art only a few could master,” Vengsarkar stated.

Ganguly, who has shared the Indian dressing room with Laxman for more than decade recollected the epic knock of 281 at the Eden Gardens.

“That was the brightest day in Laxman’s career. That innings had a big impact on Indian cricket. It had given us a huge sense of relief and made us have belief in ourself that we’re not behind... Since then, we never looked back as Indian cricket kept improving.”

“He was terrific... a God’s gifted player. When I first saw him, his style seemed to me like that of Mohammad Azharuddin, but he went on to prove himself to be better.”

Ganguly further said Laxman was very different in the dressing room, much unlike what he seemed while being on the field.

Recalling India’s 2007 Test vs South Africa in Cape Town, Ganguly said they had to change the batting order and he had to come at 4 as Laxman was taking shower.

“We had lost two quick wickets and the umpire did not allow Tendulkar to bat at his usual position as a penalty for being out of the field for about 15 minutes.

“It was Laxman’s turn next but we all kept searching for him frantically. The match had to be stopped as I was rushed in. I remember the physio tieing my shoelace, while Tendulkar was busy putting on the pad on one leg, while I was doing another. I was in track suits,” he remembered fondly.

“Later we realised that he was taking shower. I can guarantee that in 125 of his 134 matches he went to shower just before the batsman ahead of him went in (to bat).”

Laxman was very religious, Ganguly added.

“I once did not have my iPod and borrowed his, but all the songs that I shuffled were only devotional songs which I did not understand. I soon gave it back to him,” he said.

Chief selector K Srikkanth said Laxman’s contribution to team’s success was immense.

“We respect his decision to retire with immediate effect. We wish him and his family all the best after retirement. He was a team player. He played with great deal of pride for his country. He won many matches for the country.

His contribution has been great,” Srikkanth said.

Former all rounder Bapu Nadkarni was surprised by Laxman’s timing of retirement. “I thought he would play the series against New Zealand. Why the suspense? He could have done it earlier. Anyway, he is one of the true champions of Indian batting,” Nadkarni said.

(This article was published on August 18, 2012)
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