India v New Zealand, 1st Test, Hyderabad August 22, 2012

Sixteen years, and suddenly gone

As they step out to take on New Zealand, India will wake up to the reality of not having two monumental pillars of their Test success as part of the XI
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At 9:25am on Thursday, August 23, when the bell goes in Hyderabad, for all practical and formal purposes, it will signal to everyone - umpires, players and the crowd - that there's five minutes left for play to start in the first Test between India and New Zealand.

The bell will largely be heard by those around the dressing rooms but across Indian cricket, it will also become the sound of the earth rumbling.

It will resound with finality, bringing home the truth that when the Indian team looks for security and courage, resolve and imagination, they will have to look elsewhere. Starting Thursday, India set out without Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, the Everyman artisans of their greatest-ever middle order.

Hyderabad will not mark the first time that India have been without both Dravid and Laxman in the playing XI since the time they made their debuts. What is remarkable is that in the 16 years since Dravid's Test career began - five months before Laxman's - only once has the team been without both of them.

Injuries in the preceding Test series versus Bangladesh - Laxman in Chittagong, Dravid in Dhaka - had kept both of them out of the 2010 Nagpur Test against South Africa. India lost that match by an innings and six runs. For the next Test in Kolkata, Laxman returned, India won by an innings and 75. Dravid, meanwhile, recovered from surgery after being hit on the jaw by Shahadat Hossain, and when India played its next Test five months later against Sri Lanka, he was back.

Nagpur 2010 could have been slotted as either hiccup or harbinger. In the romping-stomping aftermath of India's rise to the No. 1 Test rankings, whatever it was, Hyderabad 2012 is certainly going to be definitive. Inevitable yet significant. Pragmatically we could think of it as yet another upheaval in cricket's relentless churn. Who knows who and what will take over and how incandescent they might indeed be?

Indeed. Inside the dressing room, there will be little room or time or attention for sentiment alone. Even though every man in the room, particularly the rookies, know that what the team is first looking for are two to fill this Dravid and Laxman-sized hole.

In numerical terms for India, they were 22069 Test runs, 345 catches but most importantly, 45 Test victories. When together at either end of the crease, they put up 4065 runs, averaged 51.45 had 12 century-stands and 14 50-plus partnerships. Laxman's Test career may have taken slightly longer to get warmed up than Dravid's did. But in his 134 Tests, Laxman didn't share a dressing room with Dravid in only two: Ahmedabad 2005 against Sri Lanka and Kolkata, 2010.

If numbers create structures, Dravid and Laxman's are a tower block of the kind that is now sold to urban Indians with central air-conditioning, high-speed elevators, heated swimming pools and helipads. Premium luxury. Those names fill the No. 2 and No. 4 spots among India's highest Test run-scorers. Between them is only S M Gavaskar.

Dravid and Laxman bookended either side of the middle order - at No. 3 and No. 5/6 - and their partnerships being, more often than not, that of India's last specialist batting pair. Now and then, there were discussions about theoretically where each could have been better fit. On the field the truth was that together or apart, they just fit. Without either man, things could easily have fallen apart.

Dravid and Laxman produced their best in a high-altitude, highly strung, highly ambitious, highly competitive environment. Without a swagger, without an aura but with the sheer weight of their skill, pride, and ambition.

They were different and distinct and, at their finest, perfectly synchronised. Even when helmeted and dressed in identical whites, Dravid and Laxman were easily identifiable whether standing on the roof of Eden Gardens or on the footboard of a train whizzing past the Wankhede. Laxman will be the taller, more angular, with geometric, squared shoulders. Dravid, the leaner, slighter framed, more compact in comparison, helmet strap hanging loose. On appearance alone, Laxman could have easily have been slotted in as classical batsman, Dravid, the ephemeral stylist. Which is why they say those things about not judging books.

Before they went out to bat, Dravid needed his quiet. Laxman often jumped into the shower to the bafflement of mates. In the slips they would stand next to each other, Dravid in his blue India cap, Laxman in white, broad-brimmed floppy. They chatted, they said, about children or dinner or pursuing electricians and plumbers when they were getting new homes built. When they batted together, each at his own pace, lost in his own music - adagio and allegro somehow in harmony - they didn't talk much. Mostly it was just encouragement, "keep going."

It was what Laxman and Dravid did for 16 years. Kept going. They were the constant, driven and key components of Indian cricket's most successful Test decade; their stardom defined by accomplishment way over 'brand value.' They represent an age and an era that Indian cricket could do well to fall back on - of intense competitiveness being balanced by reasonable conduct. Not the other way round. Dravid and Laxman produced their best in a high-altitude, highly strung, highly ambitious, highly competitive environment. Without a swagger, without an aura but with the sheer weight of their skill, pride, and ambition.

Had they not taken to cricket, with a surging, deep, fundamental love for the sport, each would have easily found a niche elsewhere: Dravid, a tie-wearing, multinational executive supporting social causes, Laxman in a doctor's coat, nodding patiently as patients complained well into the night. They came to the team that was to become their own, survived through the mid-90s, past the horrors of match-fixing, and became the reasons how and why India was able to, as The Doors described it, "break on through to the other side."

To us on the outside, of cricket, the team, its internal dynamic and whatever makes it work, the absence of Dravid, RS and Laxman, VVS, on a Test match scoresheet for India will take some getting used to.

Sixteen years after all is an entire generation - in 16 years, toddlers turn into teenagers, teenagers into the thirty-somethings, yuppies into the weary middle-aged. Sixteen years can be life-changing. Like that partnership in Kolkata. They did it, remember? Turned 'bat the whole day' from idiom to reality.

It is why the first stirrings of India's 2012 10-Test home season will contain, before everything else, the hollowness of departure. Like the turning away from a farewell handshake, the shutting of a door, the quiet after a goodbye on the telephone.

Dravid and Laxman, Laxman and Dravid. Gone.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on August 24, 2012, 3:27 GMT

    We all miss the grand sight of the world's most reliable and challenging middle order partnership.. Pillars of indian team and world class pullers of the red ball.. Can V see a bit of them in Pujara ...?

  • AjaySridharan on August 23, 2012, 16:35 GMT

    A rare piece of good article from Sharda! made for a very good read...more in the lines of Peter Roebuck

  • PTtheAxis on August 23, 2012, 16:04 GMT

    the doors and dravid/laxman ? how does that tie in & when did indian cricket team break on though to the other side ? only an indian columnist can write nonchalantly about multinational corporatism as being a good thing which a supposed good person like dravid can be happily part of. its not being sold out at all ! the whole earth rumbling just because 2 players have been replaced in a cricket team ? is this a misplaced page 2 article ?

  • MrDynamic on August 23, 2012, 14:47 GMT

    Just a response to a lot of comments which mentioned "why sympathy, why emotions":-

    The writers, movies, politicians win the hearts of the people in different ways and sentiment is the widely used one. It works wonders when it comes to the ones related to Indians because we all have been brought up with the heavy potion of sentiment in 90% of our movies. May be silly may be not. :)

  • A.Ak on August 23, 2012, 14:42 GMT

    Hats off to these real Gem of players. When India tours overseas, the fans will mourn about how bad they are missing these two.

  • on August 23, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    Brilliant piece. Sharda does it again, and again, and again. Everyone writes glowing tributes to great cricketers when they leave the scene. But this article beautifully captures the class of the D-L combination that served India for 16 years. Pujara shows promise and from far makes you feel Dravid is still playing on. Now we need another Laxman. Too much to wish for perhaps considering the current tendency to bring on ODI and T20 experts into the test side. If Badrinath is 31, so what. Hussey started post-30s and see what he has done. Badrinath still has 4 to 5 years of top cricket left in him.

  • bampok on August 23, 2012, 13:20 GMT

    Beautiful tribute... And it is indeed GONE... The were not just players but they were the invisible pillars of the Indian test team... In the truest sense, they were the gentlemen of Indian Gentlemen's game... Their experience needs to be used, and I do hope they both will remain active in the cricket fraternity like Kumble!!

  • Ms.Cricket on August 23, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    Sharda Ugra, why so emotional about two old well-paid well-accomplished cricketers. They have played professional sport well and they have been rewarded with money and fame, that's it. They haven't discovered a cure for cancer, eradicated poverty or brought drinking water to any village. People should stop moaning and groaning about retirements of professional sportspeople. It's just a game, there are other real human issues that need empathy.

  • Raki99 on August 23, 2012, 12:40 GMT

    Sunil Gavaskar Needs to Write a Book on How to retire, Dravid should have retired after the ENG. Series. They would have been awesome. Retire on High instead of being pushed out. Just learn something from the Aussies, They kicked rickey out in a minute. Their selector's ahve an open communication with their playess. No need to get this much emotional. We all have to retire from our profession one day.

  • on August 23, 2012, 12:37 GMT

    Sameer Phal...best women writer...really? Do you have to pharaphrase the writer like that? Can we not just say a best writer?

  • on August 24, 2012, 3:27 GMT

    We all miss the grand sight of the world's most reliable and challenging middle order partnership.. Pillars of indian team and world class pullers of the red ball.. Can V see a bit of them in Pujara ...?

  • AjaySridharan on August 23, 2012, 16:35 GMT

    A rare piece of good article from Sharda! made for a very good read...more in the lines of Peter Roebuck

  • PTtheAxis on August 23, 2012, 16:04 GMT

    the doors and dravid/laxman ? how does that tie in & when did indian cricket team break on though to the other side ? only an indian columnist can write nonchalantly about multinational corporatism as being a good thing which a supposed good person like dravid can be happily part of. its not being sold out at all ! the whole earth rumbling just because 2 players have been replaced in a cricket team ? is this a misplaced page 2 article ?

  • MrDynamic on August 23, 2012, 14:47 GMT

    Just a response to a lot of comments which mentioned "why sympathy, why emotions":-

    The writers, movies, politicians win the hearts of the people in different ways and sentiment is the widely used one. It works wonders when it comes to the ones related to Indians because we all have been brought up with the heavy potion of sentiment in 90% of our movies. May be silly may be not. :)

  • A.Ak on August 23, 2012, 14:42 GMT

    Hats off to these real Gem of players. When India tours overseas, the fans will mourn about how bad they are missing these two.

  • on August 23, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    Brilliant piece. Sharda does it again, and again, and again. Everyone writes glowing tributes to great cricketers when they leave the scene. But this article beautifully captures the class of the D-L combination that served India for 16 years. Pujara shows promise and from far makes you feel Dravid is still playing on. Now we need another Laxman. Too much to wish for perhaps considering the current tendency to bring on ODI and T20 experts into the test side. If Badrinath is 31, so what. Hussey started post-30s and see what he has done. Badrinath still has 4 to 5 years of top cricket left in him.

  • bampok on August 23, 2012, 13:20 GMT

    Beautiful tribute... And it is indeed GONE... The were not just players but they were the invisible pillars of the Indian test team... In the truest sense, they were the gentlemen of Indian Gentlemen's game... Their experience needs to be used, and I do hope they both will remain active in the cricket fraternity like Kumble!!

  • Ms.Cricket on August 23, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    Sharda Ugra, why so emotional about two old well-paid well-accomplished cricketers. They have played professional sport well and they have been rewarded with money and fame, that's it. They haven't discovered a cure for cancer, eradicated poverty or brought drinking water to any village. People should stop moaning and groaning about retirements of professional sportspeople. It's just a game, there are other real human issues that need empathy.

  • Raki99 on August 23, 2012, 12:40 GMT

    Sunil Gavaskar Needs to Write a Book on How to retire, Dravid should have retired after the ENG. Series. They would have been awesome. Retire on High instead of being pushed out. Just learn something from the Aussies, They kicked rickey out in a minute. Their selector's ahve an open communication with their playess. No need to get this much emotional. We all have to retire from our profession one day.

  • on August 23, 2012, 12:37 GMT

    Sameer Phal...best women writer...really? Do you have to pharaphrase the writer like that? Can we not just say a best writer?

  • crick_sucks on August 23, 2012, 12:28 GMT

    Ganguly was a able leader and a gutsy batsmen. His absence will be long felt. Dravid was a wall with sound technique and had a heart and mind for the games purest form. Laxman was just blessed with extraordinary skills who would up his game against the toughest opposition. No other player received such wholesome praise from his rivals than VVS. And then there is Tendulkar in Tests who has amassed personal records sadly none of them contributed to the teams cause. And at 39 he still hasn't had enough. Expectedly when he doesnt care about the team when he bats how will care for the future of the team and make way for young talent.

  • chetan_chauhan on August 23, 2012, 11:52 GMT

    Hyderabad,Hyderabad,Hyderabad..i just don't understand, why you can't treat Dravid and Laxman as Indians before "Hyderabadis'...dear lord ..please stop dividing cricket over states in a nation which is already suffering from cast, religion and god know what other reasons..never heard England, mentioning countys before national team or for that matter Australia, sout africa even west indies which is made up from islands

  • shahiddurez on August 23, 2012, 11:01 GMT

    No doubt, Laxman, Dravid, Tendulkar are world class combination and there services for Indian Team are unforgettable and because of these Indian batting considered as one of the best in the world. It is very difficult to find the replacement of such mega stars.

  • on August 23, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    So what is the big deal of Laxman and Dravid retiring?So what even if Tendulkar retires this year? India are not going to fare any better or worse. After all we are a country of 1.2 billion. Cant we find 11 good players in a country where cricket is the unofficial national game? And a religion to many whatever that means. And to think there are just 10 test playing nations. Of these we have West Indies which is not even a country, New Zealand whose population is less than an Indian city!. Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are not improving. So we have to compete with just 5 test playing countries.

  • Jack_Tka on August 23, 2012, 9:32 GMT

    The giant's shoes can definitely never be filled but everyone has to retire someday. Newcomers need to be groomed. New Dravids and Laxmans might come out of new players in the forthcoming years.

  • on August 23, 2012, 9:11 GMT

    why was raina picked for 1st test match between india and NZ? raina's love with short balling and his technique are well known..his inability to play in tough conditions..where ball do all the taking..keeping raina mute..for most of time...with likes of RAHANE..TIWARY..AND ROHIT..in squad..how could you select player of raina's stature..here dhoni is missing his trick..or rather showing his affection for southpaw ..but in the process..hurting the progress of indian cricket.

    raina has never played well in overseas ..though he has advantage here in home conditions..point is ..is he going to be..the permanent member of test squad..or dhoni just trying to establish him as a mediocre test batsman..killing opportunities.lying ahead of him!..what if raina fails here..will he be again picked..what if he performs in next series and dropped for overseas test matches..even though if he plays few series in india..and dropped next..what difference is he going to make in squad?

  • moBlue on August 23, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    a beautiful tribute, indeed! i loved the calm in the storm i felt for so-o-o many years when dravid would walk in with IND overseas at 0 for 1... and get into business right away leaving anything not hitting the stumps!!! ...and for so-o-o many years, i loved watching VVS weave his magic - not too slowly [he was a fast starter!] but surely, my breath bated and fingers crossed while waiting to see him cross over from the 20s into the 40s [which was always the big danger zone with VVS - the more treacherous when he made batting look ridiculously easy!!! a dismissively swatted six off a shawn pollock bouncer in johannesberg in T1 on day 1 in 2002 on a lightning-fast pitch comes to mind! pretty soon, IND were in the doldrums at 56 for 4, with VVS having fallen in his danger zone before 40!]... and then breathing a sign of relief after VVS crossed 50 knowing no bowler on the planet could now get him out!!! ...and watching both of them thrive with sachin at different times! a golden era!!!

  • arfatmirza on August 23, 2012, 7:47 GMT

    You had me at "Gone"..

    One might wonder what's this extremely emotional piece of writing doing on a cricket website?

    Truly sentimental. (from Pakistan)

  • on August 23, 2012, 7:03 GMT

    Absolute piece of write up. Absolute work. Excellent. I have always enjoyed reading your works. March ahead. Keep going. You will do great as you are doing already.

  • on August 23, 2012, 6:55 GMT

    You have an amazing pen. People who have watched cricket closely enough will realize that retirements of these two greatest icon of Indian Test cricket, is not simply something about Indian cricket, its cricket in general and more importantly its about consistent display of might of character, beauty of life among other things. Its not about India, but you don't get a Rahul Dravid in hundred of years or say in hundred of nations. He was not just a mere cricketer, he was not just mere wanderer. He was an artist who painted mortality in immortal art in canvas of seasons and beyond. To watch him play, was never about victory or losses but realizing how a silent artist, a meticulous explorer can be Hemingway's ..that old man. Relentless yet graceful. And Laxman as Sharda, you have pointed out was an wizard among muggles. Keeping the statistics and prodigal perception aside, his stroke-play and art can remind one of the greatest phenomenon of cricket since I started watching it , Lara!

  • HarishVS on August 23, 2012, 6:19 GMT

    I think the absence of these two greats will be felt when take on the more tougher opponents like Aussies, English and SAns with their better pace battery and even more so when they have to do it overseas. The ongoing NZ series in bounceless Indian pitches will only invite the kind of comments already come in. Your nice and truthful article will gain more weight as the days pass by and Aussies, English and SA pace bowlers will come to attack this Indian batting line-up minus Rahul and Laxman.

  • on August 23, 2012, 6:12 GMT

    Indian Cricket will miss these two legends. I have no idea on how the youngsters are going to fare. I am surprised of Raina's inclusion in this test.

  • on August 23, 2012, 5:39 GMT

    MOVE ON , NOTHING is going to come from dreaming about 40 year olds, that way the best opener is Sunil Gavaskar and if we even dream further then Imran Khan and Wassim Akram , Jayasurya would have played for India if partition would not have happened. These guys are legends but it is unfair on the younger ones to keep harping on the same sad song, Laxman had a very bad last year, was becoming slow by the day and had to go, ditto with Tendulkar, its only a matter of time before he has to quit. Everything must change and the new will provide excitement that is needed, I took to cricket when Tendulkar hit Qadir for a six, that was my first liking of cricket, but he will need to go, maybe in 2-3 series, Move on....

  • on August 23, 2012, 4:52 GMT

    Sharda Ugra is a doyen in terms of cricket writing in India. at the risk of sounding sexist, i will say she is the best woman sportswriter in India. Ma'am do u have a twitter page?

  • sharidas on August 23, 2012, 3:16 GMT

    Indeed, as a subject to fill the day's pages, these kind of articles may be priceless. As many have said, it's time to leave the past behind and look to the future. In time, we can see similar articles being written about today's rookies. We were fortunate to see some great innings from Dravid and Laxman. Let's now look forward to some good innings from the youngsters!

  • on August 23, 2012, 2:30 GMT

    oh come on its so emotional,,,,,,,it cant be worse than8-0

  • bobagorof on August 23, 2012, 2:20 GMT

    @Vishal_07: I look forward to similar sentiments when Tendulkar retires. Everyone's been waiting for that for years, too.

  • on August 23, 2012, 1:42 GMT

    Some people need to shut their mouth (grizzle and vishal)....guys like you are handful who 'behave' as if emotions have no place. What is sports? Sports is something which is played by people. And audience loves those people consequently they love the game more. These two greats had just one bad series in Australia. VVS may have struggled in England last year but when someone leaves people do remember their "whole" career and not of last match. Some guys like Dravid_Gravitas_Statchin_Selfishkar think that by keeping such names they can prove a point. Alas! It just brings some cheap fame. Guys like him actually unleash their frustration nomenclature-ly. Lolz

  • on August 23, 2012, 1:22 GMT

    Welll written article. It will be for people to see to what extent they will be missed and till when but there is no doubt about what they brought to Indian cricket and how they took forward the game. Indian Cricket which high on T20 may never realize their worth.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 23, 2012, 1:06 GMT

    I think it's time to move on Sharda. There is no use of bickering and speculating about the future of Indian cricket. The stage is set for our young guns to shine in a home series. This was supposed to happen much earlier following the 4-0 humiliation in England last summer. Thank GOD ! I am actually GLAD Rahul and Laxman are gone. Not because I didn't admire them, but more so because team India needs to learn stuff without those legends. I would have been more happy had Sachin retired too. That would have set up the future nicely with so many potential guys knocking on the doors for selection. Having said that, our bowling is really scary. There are so many rookies and no potential match winner with the ball. Zaheer is old and I don't see him continuing much longer. We need to quickly find genuine fast bowlers from somewhere across our vast nation. Also, why isn't Irfan Pathan up for selection in the test team ? We seriously need an all rounder.

  • mk49_van on August 23, 2012, 0:29 GMT

    Time for Kohli and Pujara to do their bit .... its up to you now boys!

  • Vishal_07 on August 22, 2012, 23:40 GMT

    Too much sweet ruins the pudding. Yes, they were greats but one doesn't have to be so emotional about them leaving, especially since everybody has been waiting for this long for Laxman and Dravid to leave. Good job guys, it is time for young guns to take over.

  • grizzle on August 22, 2012, 22:47 GMT

    All right. I enjoyed the first few pieces about Dravid and Laxman's retirements, but this is getting to be a little too much. Yes, they will be sorely missed, but to be frank, they are more replacable than Zaheer Khan is in this current Indian lineup. So let's not lose context.

  • indianpunter on August 22, 2012, 22:46 GMT

    So typically Indian. Lost in dreamland about yester years.. Get a move on and look ahead. Await annihilation by England and Australia in our home turf !!

  • on August 22, 2012, 22:45 GMT

    Change is constant....Alexander the Great and Gandhi have gone into history...so it was time for these guys to move on.....Everyone was out to oust Laxman has now joined the bandwagon on how great he was.....hopefully sachin will move out before people ask when will he quit...I think he should atleast quit one dayers for starters

  • kasyapm on August 22, 2012, 22:21 GMT

    excellent piece...I grew up watching VVS and RD ( Sachin stared way before I followed cricket properly). These 2 along with Kumble, Sachin and Sourav are the reasons I follwed cricket for so long. Can't digest the fact that Dravid and VVS won't be playing again. It is even harder with Laxman as I felt he would be around for at least an year. In the current lot, I am looking forward to Pujara and Badrinath bat. Hope they rekindle my interest about Indian batting.

  • sportofpain on August 22, 2012, 22:20 GMT

    Well written Sharda. The two of them made us proud, immensely proud. I was attending a conference in Chennai when these two were playing the innings of their lives. We were of course getting constant updates so we knew something special was happening. That night I of course watched on TV the replay of their partnership and next day Bhaji did his own heroics and we defeated the Aussies. There were many innings before and many after by both of them. Alas time and tide wait for none - what we have though are precious memories and when we rewind and think of them, we feel good. I was a cricketer myself and brought up in the classic school of batting - Dravid therefore batted the way I dreamt of batting. As for Laxman - well he was beyond dreams.. Farewell but not goodbye because you guys now need to help the next generation take the team to the next level

  • propeller on August 22, 2012, 20:56 GMT

    I have to admit, moved to tears. No shame in saying so.

  • on August 22, 2012, 20:54 GMT

    Perhaps the best match winners india ever had. They helped india win few away test matches which our past greats could never do. India started playing competitively largely because of rahul's gut and determination. Laxman batting along with the tailenders did a lot for the team. They helped us win the few away tests outside the sub-continent matches, helped in drawing plenty and more often than not, salvaged the indian pride by scoring in loosing causes too. Lets hope there replacements do the same for india.

  • propeller on August 22, 2012, 20:51 GMT

    Damn... the following literally created a pit in my stomach. I suddenly feel alone and sad. It also scares me a bit to not find them on TV.

    These guys represent my childhood, my youth, my first experiences in life, it is insane how the brain wires random images with events to create memories and our personalities without us being really aware of the impact of the images on us.

    ... and suddenly, they are gone. --------------

    "Sixteen years after all is an entire generation - in 16 years, toddlers turn into teenagers, teenagers into the thirty-somethings, yuppies into the weary middle-aged. Sixteen years can be life-changing. Like that partnership in Kolkata. They did it, remember? Turned 'bat the whole day' from idiom to reality."

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on August 22, 2012, 20:40 GMT

    What a fantastic piece praising the fantastic pair. I'm left speechless after reading this piece from Ugra, which is a rarity. Team mates call him Jammy and the Windies gave him the name The Wall. For me, he will always remain the consummate professional and the quintessential elegant technician who made shouldering arms look absolutely gorgeous, who made the flick through mid-wicket, an absolute simple walk in the park and the square cut, an absolutely breath taking display of supreme skill and grace rolled into one. Coming to VVS, I'm sure my vocab isn't good enough to describe the languid elegance and eye-popping timing of his surreal batsmanship. His extremely lazy flicks, pulls and cover drives are a sight for the Gods. I'm going to miss Dravid annaiah and Lachhanna dearly. I've decided not to watch test cricket when VVS announced his retirement (with Dravid already retired). But, on second thoughts, I'll continue to watch test cricket for the sake of Pujara and Badrinath.

  • on August 22, 2012, 20:33 GMT

    Well said. However, it is time to move on. Give the youngsters a chance and let them prove their "mettle" for the Indian team.

  • Bloodprince on August 22, 2012, 19:59 GMT

    It is now testing time for India in Test matches. Do not know ,Why VVS and Dravid retired they had more than 2 years left in them

  • dailycric on August 22, 2012, 19:47 GMT

    @SriM1: try making 10 runs in a school cricket game before commenting on someone like Laxman.

  • usernames on August 22, 2012, 19:46 GMT

    Also: it would be ridiculous to judge these players' contribution in numbers. Sachin, for example, has the best numbers, yes, but that's not it -- he has inspired a whole generation of kids who grew up wanting to play like him. Their contributions to Indian cricket isn't confined to the runs they have scored, or what they have done on the field.

  • on August 22, 2012, 19:37 GMT

    Both Laxman and Dravid, like Lara before them in this era, will be remembered for ONE career-defining innings which resulted in an Indian Test win of great magnitude. Laxman will forever be remembered for the best/greatest Indian Test batting innings of all time - the 281 vs Aus. I just wonder what Sachin will be remembered for - any one career-defining innings which resulted in Indian Test win?

  • shiva89 on August 22, 2012, 19:28 GMT

    @Sri_M1: it happens when we remember a newly retired sportperson, we remember his greatest and most emorable achievement. for ex: when sachin will retire, we will talk abt his centuries, runs, that 200, WACA hundred, 2003 n 2011 WC glory. Sehwag - couple of 300's. for brian lara we remembered him mostly for: 400, 375, 200 against aussies. Laxman stats can never justify his preciousness. coming at 5/6th position, hanging with the tailenders, its brilliant that he made 8700 runs, avg of 46, 17 hundreds. but the best part about him is he was always between india and its loss. his short innings or 50 plus innings came at an important time when team needed the most. his replacement during his era was impossible because even though india has rich batsmen legacy, it was difficult to find a person who could match laxman's skill as a batsman, passion,commitment, dedication and temperament while batting. now india is having two nearly impossible works to do: finding apt replacements of RD & VVS.

  • on August 22, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    @Sri_m1: you must have been watching different test matches.

  • vivekkothari29 on August 22, 2012, 19:16 GMT

    Both gone together, they will be missed surely, both did contribute to match saving and match winning performances, e.g. Laxmans 96 vs the South Africans and Dravid showing his class on the disasterous England tour with three defiant centuries. however it has been a time coming and im sure batsmen like Virat Kohli and co will create shoes of thier own as the teams dynamic changes. I look forward to the quests this new indian team will face.

  • Roshan_P on August 22, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    Dravid and Laxman's contributions supersede statistics. Numbers cannot describe it. While Tendulkar has the most fifties and runs, it is definitely Dravid and Laxman that are the greater match winners and the ones that will always produce their best in the toughest tracks and against the fiercest opposition. Like Laxman's prolific scoring in the 4th innings and against Australia, and Dravid's great away record and recent series against England to name a few. They are definitely the ones who should be given most credit to as they were the greatest matchwinners. They will be missed and I hope young cricketers will learn from them and continue their legacy.

  • happy-go-lucky on August 22, 2012, 19:02 GMT

    @Sr1_M1:

    You don't need to go all the way back to 2003.

    2010/11 @ Mohali vs AUS: 4th Innings: Laxman, 73* took India to victory (from 124/8 to 216/9)

    2010/11 @ Durban vs SA: 2th Inings: Laxman's 96 helped India pose a winning total (2nd best was 32 from Sehwag).

  • on August 22, 2012, 18:07 GMT

    Yeah Sharda.. And no no. of eye wipings can bring them back on the scoresheet.. I was 10 when Dravid was making waves in the domestic circuit and I really wanted that youngster to get into team.. And when Laxman made that 95 opening the innings with S.Ramesh, I really really felt said for him.. Now, they r retired and and I am 26. I really feel old..

  • nitsdcricketlover on August 22, 2012, 18:01 GMT

    I still remember I was 12 dat tym after day 4 of kolkata test match wen dravid nd laxman were still not out asking my father dad is dis really possbily..ye sach me hhua ki warne ke hote hue bhi india did nt lose a wicket nd dad replying me beta belive to muje bhi nai ho rha bt hua hai..nd 4m der on it has been so many tyms dis hav played so many such innings 4 india..it ll be hard to see a indian test sheet widout dem..surly it ll be tough bt we hav to move on..I hope likes raina,kholi pujara nd rahane achive evn 50% of wt dis 16yr old middle order achived..:)

  • vishal_26 on August 22, 2012, 17:52 GMT

    Laxman was one of India's greatest player his decisions was a very big surprise for all of us including the selection community.. Dravid and Laxman are the best batman which Indian cricket has seen and see them out of the squash is very shock to all of us.. i hope anyone who replaces them will perform well and be in the same level as them and make India cricket proud as what both Laxman and Dravid.. Maybe the BBCI can afford them to be one of India's batting coach.. good luck for those players who will chosen to play and hope you guys make us proud and try to make Laxman feel that his decisions were correct and become a player like him.....

  • usernames on August 22, 2012, 17:49 GMT

    Such a great article -- people who think VVS was an underachiever miss the point. He did not plunder runs against the weaker oppositions, yes, but I'd definitely put someone who is the fourth highest scorer for India, has played the best individual innings, has bailed out the team on a number of times... all while mostly batting with the tail as a great batsman. I don't have to go to 2003 to underline his contribution. Just go back to South Africa in 2010. He had a horrific 2011 but other than that, in the recent past, he has been as good as you can be, all while being lovely to watch.

  • on August 22, 2012, 17:37 GMT

    Every bloody good thing will have to come to an end. A fact hard to digest. But we have to accept this. Let us say our best wishes to VVS & Dravid and move forward. Future will unfold new Laxmans and Dravids!!!!

  • MunafAhmed811 on August 22, 2012, 17:30 GMT

    Relax ...One great generation has ended. When Gavaskar , Vengserkar, Sandeep Patil , Shastri , Amarnath , Vishwanath retired people wondered who next.. Then came Tendulkar , Dravid, VVS, Ganguly , Sehwag..............Next will be Kohli, Pujara, Rahane ,Rohit ( yest he will cometrue soon as he does have talent, Tiwary, Chand , Zol , and someone X . I say X because like Sehwag popped out of nowhere some X player will too.. We should be more worried about bowlers becos that is our core consistent problem area after Kapil

  • vaidyar on August 22, 2012, 17:27 GMT

    It was kinda expected that they'll leave one by one, so it is sudden, considering VVS's retirement at the last moment. The start is against NZ, let's hope it doesn't throw up too many false positives, like Devang Gandhi (remember him?). Hope they at least have good sporty tracks. Southee can give them a good run for the money, at least expose a few reputations.

  • on August 22, 2012, 17:21 GMT

    Well I belong to category of teenager turning to mid-thirties.I have seen India's terrific home performances and mediocre away performances of 90s and saw herculean test match cricket of 2000 decade.Now,for the first time I am asking a question to myself---> should I watch test cricket?Having seen Kumble,Dada,Dravid and Lax winning matches for 16 years...first time I see a big hole in the team.Its nostalgic to think of 98 Aus series,2001 Aus series,2002 eng ,03-04 Aus ,04 Pak,06 WI,07 eng,08-09 NZ,10-11 win against SA in Durban.And how much of contribution these guys made in those memorable wins.Tragically people like Raina still get chance to play test cricket.Hope Pujara,Kohli ,Umesh turn into terrific test cricketers and let my interest revive back into this game.Am I day dreaming?

  • test_cricket_is_real_cricket on August 22, 2012, 17:15 GMT

    according to me, indian test cricket today is at the same stage that it was at stumps on 13 Mar 2001 in Kolkata... one partnership the next day changed the face of Indian cricket... how badly we need this partnership now!!

  • iHitWicket on August 22, 2012, 16:59 GMT

    @IndnCrktfan, you are correct in saying that the retirement of Dravid and VVS was expected to be sooner than later. Still it feels so sudden. That void that they leave behind, the feeling that you won't see them bat again leaves one with deep sense of loss as it's irreversible. It feels so sudden.

  • Unmesh_cric on August 22, 2012, 16:59 GMT

    This is a masterpiece by Sharda Ugra. Being a Dravid and Laxman fan, it is hard to digest that suddenly they both won't be there in the upcoming Test. For me, one of the most amazing sights in cricket were Dravid judging the swing of the new ball and leaving it alone around the off-stump. Who will play the fighting innings like Laxman did in Mohali to win a Test match batting with the tail? Sure, cricket will still go on without them. But Test cricket is definitely poorer without them.

  • on August 22, 2012, 16:57 GMT

    As much as Sachin is loved in ODIs, Dravid and Laxman's classical batting piece were the heroics of a test match. Its like a movie without heroes.

  • Sri_M1 on August 22, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    I think Laxman's retirement is overblown. He has been perennial underachiever. Just compare his stats for that matter with anyone from other teams. He has survived on the goodwill of a few innings, a support from his teammates - especially from southern part of India and few fifties here and there. It's a shame we have to go back to 2001 and 2003 to list one of his best innings. I'm a great fan of his batting but his contribution is certainly overblown.

  • D.Sharma on August 22, 2012, 16:47 GMT

    Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman both retired with their head held high, dignity intact and full respect from fellow team members, management, opposition and most importantly, the fans. As far as batting goes, it's these two that had taken India to the number one position in the test rankings and given Indian cricket some of it's most memorable victories. Thanks for Calcutta, Headingley, Adelaide, Rawalpindi, Kingston, Johannesburg, Perth, Durban, Kingston again and many, many more matches which have slipped my mind!

  • Winners-2011 on August 22, 2012, 16:44 GMT

    So well written. I don't know why I am so sad (tears in my eyes) while reading this article - they have done their job very well and moved on. Right?

    The void is like missing a friend forever - they never knew me like they don't know many of the other fans. But, we fans, after seeing them for so many years - hours and days together, feel like we know them so well and consider them as part of our friends circle or family. So, I guess it is like a friend/ family member going somewhere to settle down and probably with no chance of meeting again.

    Dravid/ Laxman: You both have done fantastic service to the nation for the last 16 years - made our days when you batted well and made us found excuses when you failed with the bat. My best wishes for a great career ahead. Would certainly like to connect (see on the TV) in whatever you are going to do.

  • iHitWicket on August 22, 2012, 16:44 GMT

    Awesome article, we all miss them. May the younger lot follow their example in conduct as well as ambition. Skillful some already are.

    " They represent an age and an era that Indian cricket could do well to fall back on - of intense competitiveness being balanced by reasonable conduct. Not the other way round." Awesome.

  • StatisticsRocks on August 22, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    Very well written article but I beg to diasgree with the title 'and suddenly gone'..as this was coming and every one expected it. There was no suddenness involved. It was a question of WHEN and I believe both RD and VVS did the right thing. No point in dragging especially when one is not contributing to teams success and given that there are youngsters who r ready to script their own careers and create an impression of their own hopefully contributing to the success of the Indian team. Yes it is next to ipossible to fill RD's and VVS's shoes and never will India produce such a dynamic duo again who were not exceptional at what they did but were true gentleman representing the sport, both on and off the field. We will definitely miss RD and VVS but life and cricket has to go on.

  • ProdigyA on August 22, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    Yes both were huge pillars and will be hugely missed but I would not say gone suddenly. It was due for sometime now.

  • on August 22, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    the newbies taking the slots in the team NEED not become RD and VVS at their prime..they just need to aspire to what these two were at the start of their career and build on that :)

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  • on August 22, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    the newbies taking the slots in the team NEED not become RD and VVS at their prime..they just need to aspire to what these two were at the start of their career and build on that :)

  • ProdigyA on August 22, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    Yes both were huge pillars and will be hugely missed but I would not say gone suddenly. It was due for sometime now.

  • StatisticsRocks on August 22, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    Very well written article but I beg to diasgree with the title 'and suddenly gone'..as this was coming and every one expected it. There was no suddenness involved. It was a question of WHEN and I believe both RD and VVS did the right thing. No point in dragging especially when one is not contributing to teams success and given that there are youngsters who r ready to script their own careers and create an impression of their own hopefully contributing to the success of the Indian team. Yes it is next to ipossible to fill RD's and VVS's shoes and never will India produce such a dynamic duo again who were not exceptional at what they did but were true gentleman representing the sport, both on and off the field. We will definitely miss RD and VVS but life and cricket has to go on.

  • iHitWicket on August 22, 2012, 16:44 GMT

    Awesome article, we all miss them. May the younger lot follow their example in conduct as well as ambition. Skillful some already are.

    " They represent an age and an era that Indian cricket could do well to fall back on - of intense competitiveness being balanced by reasonable conduct. Not the other way round." Awesome.

  • Winners-2011 on August 22, 2012, 16:44 GMT

    So well written. I don't know why I am so sad (tears in my eyes) while reading this article - they have done their job very well and moved on. Right?

    The void is like missing a friend forever - they never knew me like they don't know many of the other fans. But, we fans, after seeing them for so many years - hours and days together, feel like we know them so well and consider them as part of our friends circle or family. So, I guess it is like a friend/ family member going somewhere to settle down and probably with no chance of meeting again.

    Dravid/ Laxman: You both have done fantastic service to the nation for the last 16 years - made our days when you batted well and made us found excuses when you failed with the bat. My best wishes for a great career ahead. Would certainly like to connect (see on the TV) in whatever you are going to do.

  • D.Sharma on August 22, 2012, 16:47 GMT

    Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman both retired with their head held high, dignity intact and full respect from fellow team members, management, opposition and most importantly, the fans. As far as batting goes, it's these two that had taken India to the number one position in the test rankings and given Indian cricket some of it's most memorable victories. Thanks for Calcutta, Headingley, Adelaide, Rawalpindi, Kingston, Johannesburg, Perth, Durban, Kingston again and many, many more matches which have slipped my mind!

  • Sri_M1 on August 22, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    I think Laxman's retirement is overblown. He has been perennial underachiever. Just compare his stats for that matter with anyone from other teams. He has survived on the goodwill of a few innings, a support from his teammates - especially from southern part of India and few fifties here and there. It's a shame we have to go back to 2001 and 2003 to list one of his best innings. I'm a great fan of his batting but his contribution is certainly overblown.

  • on August 22, 2012, 16:57 GMT

    As much as Sachin is loved in ODIs, Dravid and Laxman's classical batting piece were the heroics of a test match. Its like a movie without heroes.

  • Unmesh_cric on August 22, 2012, 16:59 GMT

    This is a masterpiece by Sharda Ugra. Being a Dravid and Laxman fan, it is hard to digest that suddenly they both won't be there in the upcoming Test. For me, one of the most amazing sights in cricket were Dravid judging the swing of the new ball and leaving it alone around the off-stump. Who will play the fighting innings like Laxman did in Mohali to win a Test match batting with the tail? Sure, cricket will still go on without them. But Test cricket is definitely poorer without them.

  • iHitWicket on August 22, 2012, 16:59 GMT

    @IndnCrktfan, you are correct in saying that the retirement of Dravid and VVS was expected to be sooner than later. Still it feels so sudden. That void that they leave behind, the feeling that you won't see them bat again leaves one with deep sense of loss as it's irreversible. It feels so sudden.