A friend in need...

V.V.S. Laxman and Murali Kartik... fast friends.-K. BHAGYA PRAKASH   -  FILE PHOTO/K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

After Bishan Singh Bedi, VVS is the best motivator I have ever known. If you are at your lowest ebb, all you need to do is spend 15 minutes with him to feel like a world-beater, writes Murali Kartik.

To me, like many others, V. V. S. Laxman’s recent retirement came as an absolute shock. Not because of the fact of it but more the timing of it. For me, it’s the end of the international career of one of the greatest, gentlest and nicest human beings ever to have played this wonderful game. He has been a much cherished friend.

I met him for the first time in a practice game of a South Zone under-15 camp in Chennai. I wouldn’t say we became instant friends as I was in awe of this ‘wonder-kid’ already making waves.

Today, I can take the liberty to say that the relationship I share with him is as special as the ‘Special’ in VVS. I cannot put a date or time when this friendship blossomed but I guess like any friendship or relationship, there is always a chemistry which cannot be explained.

Apart from being a friend he has also been a great supporter of me through thick and thin and mentored me through my disappointments, always reiterating the importance of destiny in everyone’s life. How many cricketers do we find quitting international cricket to spend time in first-class cricket to help their state side and young cricketers coming through. This is exactly what he plans to do and that speaks volumes about the man.

After Bishan Singh Bedi, VVS is the best motivator I have ever known. If you are at your lowest ebb, all you need to do is spend 15 minutes with him to feel like a world-beater. I’m not even going to talk about his cricketing abilities because everyone knows what a champion he is, but I can let you know a few of his funny quirks, including the one that he is never padded up on time, giving the team and the batsman — supposed to go in after him — a few anxious moments. He always finds funny times to head to the shower. Also, I have never seen someone so much in love with deep tissue massages as Lachimama, giving one the impression that he was a fast bowler who has had an arduous day and not a batsman who stood at slips.

One of the funniest incidents for me was the one in 2002. I was dropped from the One-Day team (against New Zealand) and VVS calmed me down. I took the long flight back home from Auckland somewhat pacified. A few days later VVS’s name was surprisingly missing from the World Cup team. Soon both of us, after playing each other in a Ranji Trophy match, were heading to the West Indies on an ‘A’ tour. VVS was named the skipper. When he recorded four consecutive ducks in the first two games I didn’t know who needed counselling. He joked, “Now on, I am never going to say anything to you as it backfires on me”. We still laugh every time this topic crops up.

Now that he has called it a day from international cricket, I reckon all of us are going to see a bit more of VVS, the cricketing pundit, on television. He can also have more family time and watch Sarvajeet and Achintya grow, as also spread pleasure and joy amongst all his mates.

God doesn’t make any more “specials” like you Lachimama. Thanks again for gracing Indian cricket and our lives.