India v Australia, 3rd Test, Feroz Shah Kotla, 2nd day October 30, 2008

Laxman puzzled by Australia's defensive approach

Cricinfo staff
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VVS Laxman: "The players who play for India are responsible, they know the value of their responsibility to the country and they know that when they stop contributing to the team, they will take decisions" © Getty Images
 

Almost every player to have performed well for India this series has come out and taunted Australia's defensive approach. VVS Laxman, after having scored a quick double-century to set the game nicely for India, followed the trend. But Laxman's words like his batting, were subtle yet more hard-hitting. "The total approach has been defensive right from the start of the series," Laxman said. "You see the captain, saying that they are the underdogs for the series, that puts them in a defensive mode.

"Whereas our captain Anil [Kumble], despite the criticism he's been facing, he's very, very positive in the way he's talking about his team. And Ricky [Ponting] is talking about the Indian team rather than his own team. They're very defensive in the way they're approaching their cricket."

He went ahead, and said it's not the lack of resources with this current Australian team that has made them defensive. "They've got the resources," Laxman said. "Except for Adam Gilchrist, the team doesn't look different from what we played in Australia when they beat us 2-1. I think it's just that mental approach. I'm not sure why they've been defensive in the way they've approached the series."

Coming from a man who respects and gives credit to Australia's aggressive attitude for his superlative record against them, this sledge would mean a lot. And it didn't come in a taunting tone, like Zaheer Khan's. did, or in a slightly arrogant one, like Gautam Gambhir's.

While he was at it, he dealt his detractors the same treatment too. "Firstly, I think the doubting Thomases have either been in the media, or people outside the team, unfortunately," Laxman said when asked whether he felt he is the person always picked for harsh scrutiny and criticism. "There's no talk like that in the team and the management. The selectors always gave me, and each and every player in the team, the confidence."

However, Laxman said such stories in the media only worked to the team's advantage. "Unfortunately, all the stories that built up before the Test series were very negative and we took it in a positive way. I think the team got together, we had a very intense camp in Bangalore. I think because of all the negativity in the media, the team got together and that's showing in our performance."

The seniors have never faced undue pressure to retire, Laxman said. "The players don't really think [about all that] because all the players who play for the country are responsible, they know the value of their responsibility to the country and they know that when they stop contributing to the team, they will take decisions. Everyone is responsible and mature enough to take these decisions.

"People were deciding on behalf of the cricketers about when they should retire. Every player knows their responsibility. So yes, it definitely hurts. We're not asking anyone to over-respect us, but we don't want people to degrade our contribution to Indian cricket."