November 11, 2010

'Nothing beats playing at home'

Fourteen years into his career, VVS Laxman is finally set to play his first Test in Hyderabad
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As kids we all grow up with dreams such as scoring a century or destroying the opposition with the ball. An essential part of these dreams is the venue.

My first experience of playing in an international ground was at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. It was an Under-16 match but it was a phenomenal experience. To play in a ground which you see only on television, where Test matches are held, was plain exciting.

But nothing beats playing in the place where you grew up. You might ask, what is so special about playing at home? For me it is the familiarity.

Having said that, after having played at all the venues in India for more than a decade, many of them multiple times, the feeling is relative. Still, playing in a place where I was born and brought up, playing in front of my well-wishers, my mentor, my family, friends - to play in front of these people who encouraged me and were instrumental in me becoming what I am today is a very special feeling. I hadn't experienced that feeling all these years and so I was a little hurt, but now I can't complain.

The first time I watched a big match live in Hyderabad was in 1981, between South Zone and Keith Fletcher's England, Fateh Maidan (Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium), which was just a five-minute walk from my house. I sat with my brother and the family of my neighbour, who was a member of the Fateh Maidan Club, in the stands. A few years later I watched an India-Pakistan one-dayer from the corporate box because my grandfather was the chairman of Andhra Pradesh Sports Council. Those were the two big matches I watched live before I made my international debut.

I was always a regular at Ranji and domestic matches, right from my Under-13 and Under-15 days. I remember, one time Bombay came to Hyderabad for a Ranji Trophy match played at the Gymkhana grounds. It was the first time I saw Sachin Tendulkar in person. He was the talk of the country, having made his international debut so young. We kids were practising in the adjacent nets and I managed to take a peek at him and other stars like Dilip Vengsarkar, Sanjay Manjrekar, Ravi Shastri, Mohammad Azharuddin and Arshad Ayub. They were players you normally only saw in newspaper pictures or on TV, and suddenly to see them in person was exciting. That excitement has always stayed inside me. It used to give me a thrill to be in the Fateh Maidan. Going there and soaking in the atmosphere contributed to my dreams of playing for the country one day.

Baba Krishan Mohan, my uncle and mentor, has always been an avid fan of cricket. He used to watch a lot of cricket and had seen West Indies and Tony Greig's England play in Hyderabad when he was a youngster. There were a lot of cricket pictures in his house and he had a lot of stories to narrate while I was growing up. He evoked a hunger in me and helped me achieve my goals.

For a visitor Hyderabad and Secunderabad might be twin cities, two different places. But there were no differences in the cricket in both cities. Like Mumbai has Shivaji Park, for us it is the Parade grounds, on which there are multiple matches happening simultaneously. During my days there were 14 wickets and it was chaos all around.

For me, the two most important grounds in addition to the Parade one were the Gymkhana ground and the St John's Academy. I was groomed here and realised my talent here, and it was here that I became the cricketer I am today.

The Uppal Stadium is new even to me, a local, but I'm more than eager to perform here. It is a brilliant stadium, and having played around the globe I have no doubt it is one of the best. Shiv bhai [Shivlal Yadav] has done a lot to set up this world-class venue, which has all the amenities. During the IPL games here, overseas players asked why the stadium was not a Test venue yet.

This match will be a test for both the venue and myself. I hope the crowds will come in in big numbers to watch. On the personal front, I have some unfinished business. Last time I played an international match in Hyderabad, it was against the same opponent, New Zealand. It was November 15. I had walked in to bat towards the end of the innings after Sachin and [Virender] Sehwag had scored a big opening partnership. I got out in single digits. But I have got a double-century at Uppal [224 against Rajasthan in the 2008-09 season] and I hope I can bring the same form to this Test. After the exciting draw in Ahmedabad it is an important Test match in the context of the series. If I can contribute in a win, it would be really special.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rumy1 on November 13, 2010, 19:29 GMT

    Laxman is perhaps the best batsman in world right now. Gambhir must make way for Jaffer. It's time to get the country's best bat who is not in the team back into the team. Technically and temperamentally Jaffer is the most well equipped for No.2 position and is a much better option than Vijay in Tests. Dravid must retire now. He clearly is struggling these days. Time for him to bid adieu. Pujara must be brought back in. Raina must go. He is good for ODIs and T20s but doesn't have the technique or temperament for Tests. No, Yuvraj shouldn't replace Raina. Yuvraj has got enough Test chances and is good for ODIs & T20s like Raina. Rohit like Yuvraj doesn't merit a Test place either. Kaif deserves a Test chance provided Dhoni agrees. Kaif as a wounded tiger will grab the opportunity with both hands and could be a threat for MSD as a potential future Test captain. Else Badrinath merits a Test cap. Ishant needs to be brought back in the Test XI. He is a special talent. Ojha must be persisted

  • konderaj17 on November 13, 2010, 12:53 GMT

    Laxman u & viru can only make history, U r habitual 2 play under crucial condns. Keep it up!

  • on November 12, 2010, 22:59 GMT

    The very best tribute to one of the most beautiful batsmen to have ever played the game. All those who like VVS, please check out the article http://senantixtwentytwoyards.blogspot.com/2010/10/pull-of-laxman.html @Navillus, thanks for the great link.

  • cricPassion2009 on November 12, 2010, 17:09 GMT

    Just wished he would get chance to play ODI again. We need a couple of some cool-minded, match-saving folks.

  • on November 12, 2010, 14:47 GMT

    Like typical South Indian, Laxman is so modest, cool but as a professional cricketer, he deserves all the accolade given to greats! best of luck . Lurzan from Bangladesh.

  • skapoor1 on November 11, 2010, 23:40 GMT

    VVS laxman - cant decribe this man's credibilty in the team...really the crisis man for India at No.6. I dont think anyone in the history of test cricket has saved or even won matches for india at that position. He is a true master....not only he makes lotss of runs for India but also he iis simple,humble and polite cricketer. Other players go out of their way to make a name for themselves but laxamn lets his bat do the talking. Now he is playing in front of his crowd for the first time...may be he wil score a century or he might get out for a duck...this guy has done enought alreadyy for indian cricket.....go lax go and score a hundred.My best wishes for you...u make indian cricket look glittery b/c u r an absolute pure diamond.

  • on November 11, 2010, 22:09 GMT

    He is the best player if the pitches are fast and seamers bowling to him.

  • CktZMyLyf on November 11, 2010, 21:00 GMT

    Come on Laxman, Sachin, Dravid, Sehwag re-write the history again......Go India Go.....

  • on November 11, 2010, 17:03 GMT

    welcome to Hyderabad VVS... we shall meet at stadium on the D-Day...

  • passionate_cricket_follower on November 11, 2010, 16:47 GMT

    i dream of watching laxman winning WC 2011 for India. i know its a distant dream, but who knows, finally the selectors might show some respect to give a chance to this player of great caliber to play a WC!!! had it not been the politics of ganguly and co, he'd have played over 250 ODIs to add to his 100+ tests. GO VVS!!! Make ur fans more proud of u!!!

  • Rumy1 on November 13, 2010, 19:29 GMT

    Laxman is perhaps the best batsman in world right now. Gambhir must make way for Jaffer. It's time to get the country's best bat who is not in the team back into the team. Technically and temperamentally Jaffer is the most well equipped for No.2 position and is a much better option than Vijay in Tests. Dravid must retire now. He clearly is struggling these days. Time for him to bid adieu. Pujara must be brought back in. Raina must go. He is good for ODIs and T20s but doesn't have the technique or temperament for Tests. No, Yuvraj shouldn't replace Raina. Yuvraj has got enough Test chances and is good for ODIs & T20s like Raina. Rohit like Yuvraj doesn't merit a Test place either. Kaif deserves a Test chance provided Dhoni agrees. Kaif as a wounded tiger will grab the opportunity with both hands and could be a threat for MSD as a potential future Test captain. Else Badrinath merits a Test cap. Ishant needs to be brought back in the Test XI. He is a special talent. Ojha must be persisted

  • konderaj17 on November 13, 2010, 12:53 GMT

    Laxman u & viru can only make history, U r habitual 2 play under crucial condns. Keep it up!

  • on November 12, 2010, 22:59 GMT

    The very best tribute to one of the most beautiful batsmen to have ever played the game. All those who like VVS, please check out the article http://senantixtwentytwoyards.blogspot.com/2010/10/pull-of-laxman.html @Navillus, thanks for the great link.

  • cricPassion2009 on November 12, 2010, 17:09 GMT

    Just wished he would get chance to play ODI again. We need a couple of some cool-minded, match-saving folks.

  • on November 12, 2010, 14:47 GMT

    Like typical South Indian, Laxman is so modest, cool but as a professional cricketer, he deserves all the accolade given to greats! best of luck . Lurzan from Bangladesh.

  • skapoor1 on November 11, 2010, 23:40 GMT

    VVS laxman - cant decribe this man's credibilty in the team...really the crisis man for India at No.6. I dont think anyone in the history of test cricket has saved or even won matches for india at that position. He is a true master....not only he makes lotss of runs for India but also he iis simple,humble and polite cricketer. Other players go out of their way to make a name for themselves but laxamn lets his bat do the talking. Now he is playing in front of his crowd for the first time...may be he wil score a century or he might get out for a duck...this guy has done enought alreadyy for indian cricket.....go lax go and score a hundred.My best wishes for you...u make indian cricket look glittery b/c u r an absolute pure diamond.

  • on November 11, 2010, 22:09 GMT

    He is the best player if the pitches are fast and seamers bowling to him.

  • CktZMyLyf on November 11, 2010, 21:00 GMT

    Come on Laxman, Sachin, Dravid, Sehwag re-write the history again......Go India Go.....

  • on November 11, 2010, 17:03 GMT

    welcome to Hyderabad VVS... we shall meet at stadium on the D-Day...

  • passionate_cricket_follower on November 11, 2010, 16:47 GMT

    i dream of watching laxman winning WC 2011 for India. i know its a distant dream, but who knows, finally the selectors might show some respect to give a chance to this player of great caliber to play a WC!!! had it not been the politics of ganguly and co, he'd have played over 250 ODIs to add to his 100+ tests. GO VVS!!! Make ur fans more proud of u!!!

  • balu1485 on November 11, 2010, 14:30 GMT

    Luky bhai make a century and make us proud we the hyderabadians!!!!!!!!!!

  • dktheboss on November 11, 2010, 14:06 GMT

    Guys if you love vvs then link yourself to the url given by Navillus. its an awesome piece of writing u will not disappointed

  • akasavani on November 11, 2010, 14:02 GMT

    Laxman Laxman Laxman Laxman Laxman .... I am a Hyderabadi living in the US. i would be in the stands if I could. Hyderabadis, please show up !!!

  • krik.lover on November 11, 2010, 13:35 GMT

    Laxman is not as famous as per his Caliber/potential and technique. He is really a fantastic player but he is not given much appreciation neither by BCCI nor by country people. He is very good ODI player too but he lost the momentum during the period of ganguly's captaincy where he dropped many catches. Laxman saved many desparate/critical test matches irrespective of the nature of pitch. ===========Laxman can be a perfect match for Fevicol Advertisement===========

  • PraveenK on November 11, 2010, 12:27 GMT

    Finally, finally we are hosting a test match in Hyderabad. Go Laxman Go.. get a one more big hundred...

  • on November 11, 2010, 11:33 GMT

    ALL THE BEST TO VERY VERY SPECIAL BATSMAN OF INDIAN TEAM .... HOPE HE WILL SHOW HIS CLASS IN HIS HOMETOWN ALSO ....

  • ss0025 on November 11, 2010, 10:11 GMT

    Got the tickets, cant wait to go into the stadium, bought a new Deccan chargers jersey for the match, cant wait to see my first live match at the Stadium, 22 years, since it happened at Hyderabad. Was a small kid, when the test match last happened here. Cant wait to see Sachin again at the stadium, saw him during the one day match here. Saw Lax during the IPL matches. But i am worried about one thing, home team never won a single match at the ground. Sincerely hope that indian test team re-writes history at this wonderful ground.

  • on November 11, 2010, 9:17 GMT

    New Zealand are the neighbors of Australia, Laxman! Shouldn't they be given a chance to watch some classy Laxman Specials,as their trans-tasman neighbours have witnessed, to their horror,many times? Go,go ,go!!!

  • on November 11, 2010, 9:13 GMT

    LAXMAN U R JEWEL OF NIZAM CITY.................PLS BAT AT NO.3 AND BEAT UR OWN RECORD 281 RUNS AND MAKE TRIPPLE HUNDRED............WE WISH U ALL THE BEST GO GET IT

  • mdhyderali on November 11, 2010, 8:45 GMT

    From Hyderabad : Laxman should get an opportunity to bat at no.3 position in his home ground as he mite retire in 2yrs time. He is very humble, cool guy. He deserves this sort of tribute, and his style of batting suits at no.3. Hopefully, i see laxman contribute wit bat and help India win for the 1st time in This very stadium.

  • on November 11, 2010, 8:29 GMT

    We hope to see another gem from you Laxman this time. We wish you the very best and let God give you all the strength to excel in your home pitch.

  • on November 11, 2010, 8:26 GMT

    Cant wait to be at the stadium...

  • on November 11, 2010, 8:20 GMT

    waiting for a great match in uppal,HYDERABAD as a hyderabadi we love to see the worlds best players playing in our local city.......................................... i hope it should be the great experience!

  • on November 11, 2010, 7:09 GMT

    LAXMAN PLS MAKE CENTURY AT HYDERABAD..........................

  • ram_sachin on November 11, 2010, 6:35 GMT

    "Nothing beats Scoring at home " ------>>>> Way to go LAX.

    Good Luck... And Hope to See a Wristy Laxman at his peak...

    Cmonn India !!!!!!

  • on November 11, 2010, 6:30 GMT

    hOPE vvs DOES a rampage at home

  • Rahul_78 on November 11, 2010, 6:00 GMT

    What some of us indian fans dont understand is how privileged we are at the moment when we have sachin, vvs and dravid playing in our current team. Kumble, ganguly and sreenath have already said their good byes. I doubt for generations we will see sportsmans of such quality, integrity and caliber playing together. This team will be long remember for the titans who were part of it and joy they gave us and to the rest of cricket loving world. We need to savor it while it lasts instead of getting involved in pulling these legends from there perch and waiting for their retirements.

  • Anup82 on November 11, 2010, 5:55 GMT

    Nice to hear memories from VVS... all these gus VVS, Dravid and Sachin are very valuable to young cricketeers and also to common man like us. Apart from their skills, they are humble and have managed their careers very well. Representing your country for more than a decade (two decades in case of sachin!) is not an easy task and requires lots of hardwork, patience and good work ethic. Wish u all the best Laxman...

  • Navillus on November 11, 2010, 5:54 GMT

    For a master in the Hyderabadi gharana of classic artistic batsmanship - it is really special to be playing his first match at Hyderabad .... Very very special day indeed for a very very special player http://senantixtwentytwoyards.blogspot.com/2010/10/pull-of-laxman.html

  • belichick007 on November 11, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    Lets go laxman!! you deserve to get the hundred you missed earlier

  • on November 11, 2010, 4:46 GMT

    V.V.S Laxman is one the Gud test batsmen. He should play shots closer to the pad. He should not play bat and pad away batting.

  • Pathiyal on November 11, 2010, 4:21 GMT

    VVS resembles a ceo who always takes the best decision for his company before leaving a conf table to leave his collegues spell bound. thanks for all your magnificent efforts in tests so far and congrats on your fabulous career which should continue as long as you wish. we will definitely pray for another gigantic performance this time in your hometown.

  • Farce-Follower on November 11, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    All the best Laxman Garu...we are looking forward to an epic from you (once again).

  • shashankkrishnan on November 11, 2010, 3:46 GMT

    A just reward for his fine recent performances (as also his contribution to Indian cricket throughout his career) would be to promote him to his favourite No.3 in his first test in Hyderabad. Go VVS!

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  • shashankkrishnan on November 11, 2010, 3:46 GMT

    A just reward for his fine recent performances (as also his contribution to Indian cricket throughout his career) would be to promote him to his favourite No.3 in his first test in Hyderabad. Go VVS!

  • Farce-Follower on November 11, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    All the best Laxman Garu...we are looking forward to an epic from you (once again).

  • Pathiyal on November 11, 2010, 4:21 GMT

    VVS resembles a ceo who always takes the best decision for his company before leaving a conf table to leave his collegues spell bound. thanks for all your magnificent efforts in tests so far and congrats on your fabulous career which should continue as long as you wish. we will definitely pray for another gigantic performance this time in your hometown.

  • on November 11, 2010, 4:46 GMT

    V.V.S Laxman is one the Gud test batsmen. He should play shots closer to the pad. He should not play bat and pad away batting.

  • belichick007 on November 11, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    Lets go laxman!! you deserve to get the hundred you missed earlier

  • Navillus on November 11, 2010, 5:54 GMT

    For a master in the Hyderabadi gharana of classic artistic batsmanship - it is really special to be playing his first match at Hyderabad .... Very very special day indeed for a very very special player http://senantixtwentytwoyards.blogspot.com/2010/10/pull-of-laxman.html

  • Anup82 on November 11, 2010, 5:55 GMT

    Nice to hear memories from VVS... all these gus VVS, Dravid and Sachin are very valuable to young cricketeers and also to common man like us. Apart from their skills, they are humble and have managed their careers very well. Representing your country for more than a decade (two decades in case of sachin!) is not an easy task and requires lots of hardwork, patience and good work ethic. Wish u all the best Laxman...

  • Rahul_78 on November 11, 2010, 6:00 GMT

    What some of us indian fans dont understand is how privileged we are at the moment when we have sachin, vvs and dravid playing in our current team. Kumble, ganguly and sreenath have already said their good byes. I doubt for generations we will see sportsmans of such quality, integrity and caliber playing together. This team will be long remember for the titans who were part of it and joy they gave us and to the rest of cricket loving world. We need to savor it while it lasts instead of getting involved in pulling these legends from there perch and waiting for their retirements.

  • on November 11, 2010, 6:30 GMT

    hOPE vvs DOES a rampage at home

  • ram_sachin on November 11, 2010, 6:35 GMT

    "Nothing beats Scoring at home " ------>>>> Way to go LAX.

    Good Luck... And Hope to See a Wristy Laxman at his peak...

    Cmonn India !!!!!!