Providing a topic or two for debate

If V.V.S. Laxman was non-controversial and shunned the spotlight, Kevin Pietersen coveted it and was continuously in the news, both on and off the field. However, now, both have stirred controversies.

Cricket is never short of controversies. In recent weeks, two big issues emerged. One was the decision of the English selectors to drop Kevin Pietersen from the crucial final Test against South Africa and the other was the timing of the retirement of V. V. S. Laxman, who quit international cricket with immediate effect even though he was selected to play in the first Test against New Zealand, that too in Hyderabad, his home ground.

The selectors coming together for the last meeting of their term picked Laxman, whose place in the team had been under pressure, for the series against New Zealand. The confidence they showed in him was also a recognition of the wonderful service that Laxman had rendered to Indian cricket and the selectors certainly did not want to be the ones to drop him from the team. It was expected that VVS would retire after the series against New Zealand even if he got two big hundreds against them. However, by waiting for a few days after the selection, the never-controversial VVS has created an unnecessary controversy at the start of a fresh season.

The retirement of the two stalwarts of Indian cricket, Rahul Dravid and Laxman, has opened up places for youngsters though both can never be adequately replaced. The partnerships that they forged, and that too in trying circumstances for India, have been the stuff of legends. Indian cricket will forever be grateful to them for providing such magnificent and different styles of batting and thrilling cricket lovers all over the world. Wish you the very best of retired life VVS. Hope you will continue to contribute to Indian cricket after retirement too.

If VVS was non-controversial and shunned the spotlight, Pietersen coveted it and was continuously in the news, on and off the field. Not only his batting but also his hairstyles and lifestyle became news. This was not the behaviour the ECB expected of their players, but they could do little as Pietersen was an invaluable commodity. But once the Ashes were won and retained in Australia, it appeared that they were running out of patience with him. There is not the slightest doubt that both have used each other. Pietersen used the ECB to play international cricket and further his career and reputation while the ECB used him to bolster England’s batting. England badly needed his presence to become the ICC T20 Champions in 2010 and the number one Test team in the world.

Pietersen sending derogatory text messages about Andrew Strauss and other English players to some South African players is hardly a reason to drop him from a Test match.

There have been instances of other players writing books in which they have been disparaging about Pietersen and other English players, but that did not even warrant a slap on the wrist, and that is how it should be. Pietersen has paid the price and he will have realised if he hasn’t already that ECB have no more use for him.

Two wonderful batsmen, two different personalities — both hit the headlines for contrasting reasons and added to the book of cricket controversies.