Indian Premier League September 29, 2008

Laxman removal 'unfair'

Cricinfo staff

Vijay Mohanraj: "They [Deccan Chargers] are being very unfair to [VVS] Laxman. They should have sounded him out last year itself, and consulted him over the issue" © AFP

The abrupt removal of VVS Laxman from the captaincy of Deccan Chargers, the IPL team, has been criticised by his close associates as disappointing, unethical and unfortunate. The team management has responded by saying the decision to replace him with Adam Gilchrist was part of their efforts to be more competitive next season.

Laxman declined to comment on the franchise's decision. "At the moment, I am preparing for the Australia series [the first Test starts in Bangalore on October 9], which is a very important one," he told Cricinfo. "I don't want to talk about this issue now because I don't want any distraction to come in the way of the Test series."

However, Vijay Mohanraj, the former Hyderabad batsman and an employee of Deccan Chargers during the inaugural IPL edition, has slammed the franchise for Laxman's "unethical removal". Robin Singh, the former Deccan coach, described the ouster as "disappointing" and "sad for VVS" - Robin has been replaced by Darren Lehmann.

Mohanraj, who was a manager with the team before leaving at the end of the season, claimed Laxman was not informed or consulted about the removal. "They are being very unfair to Laxman," Mohanraj told Cricinfo. "They should have sounded him out last year itself, and consulted him over the issue. It is very unfortunate that one of India's leading cricketers is being treated this way. The way he has been removed is unethical. This is not the way to do it."

But Tim Wright, the new chief executive of Deccan Chargers, told Cricinfo that "Laxman had a talk with the management" about the changes and denied allegations that the batsman came to know of his ouster through an email.

"I am certain that Laxman will feel a sense of disappointment at the decision, and I understand that," Wright said. "I want to make it clear that this decision was not against Laxman. With players of the calibre of Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds, Shahid Afridi, Herschelle Gibbs and Scott Styris and the group of four Indian cricketers who are in the national team, including Laxman, the idea is to be more competitive in the next season of the IPL."

Robin Singh said he was aware that changes were being made in the team. "I was aware of the discussions which had been going on for a while about some new appointments," he told Cricinfo. "Definitely I will be featuring in some capacity in a role that is suitable and in line with what I would like to do. We will have to sit and have a mutual agreement on that."

Laxman's association with the Deccan Chargers did not get off to the best of starts when the franchise withdrew an application for his 'icon status', which would have entitled him to a fee that is 15% more than the team's highest signing. This move enabled the team to sign Andrew Symonds, the Australian allrounder, at US$ 1.35 million while staying within the US$5 million cap on player purchases.

Laxman then missed eight of Deccan's 14 matches during the IPL's inaugural edition due to a wrist injury. The team finished last, winning only two of their 14 matches, despite a star-studded line-up.

Afridi later said Laxman was unable to keep up with the fast-paced nature of the game. "At times Laxman lost the plot on the field," Afridi said. "Twenty20 cricket is not his forte. Adam is more comfortable in this type of cricket."

In his response to Afridi's comments, Laxman said: "Probably it is time someone told Afridi that a captain can only be as good as the team and to blame only me is totally out of place. The truth is that the team did not perform to its potential. Every player should take the blame for it and try and comeback strongly in the next edition instead of blaming each other."