V.V.S. Laxman plays by the book, '281 and Beyond'

Former Indian cricketer V. V. S. Laxman said the book will be an honest account of his journey and the challenges he faced on the cricket field and off it.

V.V.S. Laxman at the cover launch of his forthcoming biography '281 And Beyond', in Hyderabad on Friday.   -  V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

V.V.S. Laxman unveiled the cover of his book titled '281 and Beyond', written by seasoned sports writer R. Kaushik, in Hyderabad on Friday.  

The former Indian cricketer said the book will be an honest account of his journey and the challenges he faced on the field and off it.

It will share his experiences, right from his childhood to being teammates with some of the biggest names in Indian cricket such as Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag,  and Sourav Ganguly, and how different it was batting with each of them.

Laxman, famed for his graceful batting, said the book is one that suggests to parents and coaches that cricket can be an option for children. "The whole endeavour has been to present my career in such a way that it will help many a young talent get inspired," the elegant Hyderabadi said, pointing to the contribution of his mentor and uncle Baba Krishna Mohan.

The book talks of the difficult phase when Laxman had to choose between academics (he wanted to be a doctor) and cricket, and how his parents dealt with it, especially when cricket in the 1990s was not as professional as today. "The role of coaches at the State-level in the early days are the most crucial for any athlete," he said.

"The book quite naturally has special chapters on the what we all (Indian players) went through from the beginning of the first Test against Steve Waugh-led Aussies in the 2001 Test series at home. How coach John Wright shaped our mindset, made us set goals and, importantly, achieve them."

The title of the book is a no-brainer, as cricket fans doff their hats to Laxman's heroic knock of 281 against Australia in Kolkata. He acknowledged as much. "Yes, in naming the book around that epic knock of 281 at Eden Gardens in the 2001 Test match was to let everyone relate to that most significant chapter in my journey and also that of Indian cricket in terms of changing the attitude of the whole team thereafter."

Laxman, who retired in 2012, said the book is not just about success stories like his first Test century in Sydney, but also how he felt when he was dropped for the 2003 World Cup, and for a Test match against South Africa. "It has a special chapter on Eden Gardens - one of my favourite venues," he added.

"I must mention that the author, a dear friend of mine, R. Kaushik, has been very flexible along with the publishers in bringing out the book. It is the culmination of teamwork in which I always believed," he said.

"Fortunately, I have been away from controversies in cricket and in life. I think the only one was after my announcement of retirement. So, the effort was never to spice up the book but to also given an insight into Laxman himself, like handling some emotional moments in tough phases, how quickly I learnt."

The book, brought out by Westland Publications, will be officially launched on November 19 in the city.