West Indies v India, 2nd Test, Bridgetown, 1st day June 28, 2011

Laxman backs young batsmen to step up


VVS Laxman, who rescued India with a sublime 85 to help them reach 201, backed Virat Kohli and the openers, M Vijay and Abhinav Mukund, who haven't done well so far in the series, and said playing county cricket will help young batsmen adapt to different conditions and hone their skills.

Twice in three innings Kohli has fallen to the short ball. However, Laxman believed Kohli would be the batsman to watch out for. "Today, it was unfortunate," he said. "Considering the bounce of the wicket, he expected that ball to rise more. It was an unfortunate dismissal. He is a fabulous cricketer and has improved as a batsman in the last two years. He has played well in various tough situations in ODIs. It shows he is improving with every match. He will be a great player to watch out for, a match-winner for the country."

The openers haven't scored much either. Vijay, who failed in the first Test, fought hard for nearly two hours before he fell, strangled down the leg side. Mukund fell early, unable to cope with extra bounce off a delivery that jumped from short of a length. However, Laxman didn't see any cause for concern. "We've got talented openers. Abhinav had an excellent domestic season and Vijay has always grabbed his opportunities. It's tough playing in the West Indies, especially on wickets that are usually damp in the first couple of hours on the first day. They are potential match-winners."

Laxman agreed when asked whether the youngsters would benefit from the experience of playing county cricket but wondered if the tight international calendar would allow them that opportunity. "It will be a great experience for a batsman to play county cricket. I enjoyed my time with Lancashire. But given the amount of time the cricketers are already playing, it doesn't give much opportunity. It will be great for a batsman because you get so many opportunities to play on different pitches, in different weather conditions and against different bowlers."

Laxman also praised Suresh Raina, with whom he was involved in a 117-run partnership to lift India from the depths of 38 for 4. "Raina has practiced a lot playing the short deliveries. You could see that in Jamaica and here. He has played two important knocks. He played positively when the chips were down. It was great to see the way he approached the innings."

The two batsmen didn't talk much at lunch, Laxman said. "That's the beauty of this Indian team. Irrespective of the situation, it's very relaxed. Someone puts his hand up."

Laxman reached 8000 Test runs during his innings, but rued the fact that he couldn't carry on to reach a century and take India to a more competitive total. "Had we batted on, we could have got around 250 to 300, which would have been a very good score."

It was yet another innings of substance in crisis from Laxman, who said such situations bring out the best in him. "It gets the best out of me, especially when we are in a terrible situation. The track was challenging and so was the situation. But I always regret not converting the hard work done into big hundreds. Still, I got into better rhythm especially after Jamaica."

Laxman felt the pitch had some venom in the morning session but eased out once the sun came out in the afternoon. "It was a difficult wicket before lunch because it was slightly damp. They were getting bounce. After lunch, the wicket eased out a bit and it was nice for strokeplay. Raina came out positively and changed the momentum of the innings. That partnership was important but I think we threw away the hard work done after lunch. "

While Laxman appreciated the 8000-run landmark, he said he could only savour it after retirement. "So many runs seem great once you retire. At the moment I am not elated. I was just disappointed not getting a hundred. Personally, it would have been satisfying had I got the hundred as those additional 15 to 20 runs would have got us to 250. The bowlers did well to get us right back in to the game. It is an evenly poised situation."

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sachin_vvsfan on June 29, 2011, 15:56 GMT

    County cricket has definitely helped the players like laxman and zaheer. But the big question is will BCCI allow its players to participate in other clubs? Last time i checked it refused players like laxman and yuvraj to participate in County. One can understand the reasons for yuvi as he is part of the one day team but for laxman they just refused and he was sitting idle back home. I salute you BCCI.

  • Finn92 on June 29, 2011, 15:07 GMT

    Kohli would be a great signing for any county and I'd love to see him over here! His struggles in his first THREE Tests innings should be ignore really, he's batting on a true surface for bowlers and just look at his ODI stats to see hsi real class. Give him time he will do well, however Mukund and Vijay are finding out that mountains of runs in Indian domestic leagues won't prepare you for spicy tracks abroad.

  • Kumar_cricket on June 29, 2011, 14:54 GMT

    @মোহাম্মদ কামরুজ্জামান --Your Bangladesh is playing Test cricket for more than 12 years and not even able produce single win against Test playing nations apart from 3rd string West Indies team and now talking about test cricket. Is your comment is a Joke mate ...?. By the way same Bangladesh team folded out for 58 against West Indies on their own backyard and thought about chances in the world cup.

  • dummy4fb on June 29, 2011, 14:33 GMT

    Stop backing them up and start teaching them.

  • sskris1 on June 29, 2011, 14:14 GMT

    I still think Pujara has lot more talent to play test matches than Kohli. Kohli needs to keep his head straight. It is very easy to deter him mentally. Couple of bouncers and glares is enough to make him play a rash stroke. It is all about Mental Strength that makes VVS and RD such great competitors. very few fast bowlers would dare say anything to RD /VVS after a nasty bouncer. Youngsters need to learn how to control their mind. I am impressed with Raina as a test batsman. He still has tendency to throw his wicket away after doing all the hard work. Forunately for these youngsters they have greats like SRT,VVS,RD. Viru to teach them and also learn from them. The magic of VVS, the discipline and tenacity of RD, the art of scring of SRT, and fear no bowler attitude of Viru. If only our young players are willing to learn and hope they get to play some county cricket instead of IPL.

  • bestofluckindia on June 29, 2011, 14:02 GMT

    Abhinav, Vijay and Kohli should realize that 3-4 poor performances can deny them their earned place in test team. So Instead of behaving alien to bouncy wickets and getting kicked out of team they should themselves take a break of 2-3 months and play county cricket and get some reality check. What's there to lose? Look at Zaheer Khan, VVS, Dravid. Moreover, Most of Australian New comers, Irish and South Africans Play county in England even though they are bought up on bouncy wickets which makes the situation even more desperate for us INDIANS !

  • dummy4fb on June 29, 2011, 13:50 GMT

    Guys what Laxman meant is that give the youngsters more chances. I still remember the Laxman was a flop in Australia back in 1999 till his last innings. After that century he never turned back, keep going. So give more chances. Check out the Kallis stats in his early career: First 14 test matches, 23 innings, with avg ~25 and became great player.

    Every other day, people talk about removing Kohli, Raina, Vijay, Mukund, Rohit & Badri. If we want to think about making foundation for strong indian team after the retirement of the great cricketer, we need to be patient. Young talents will not need advice from you all and they'd get it from the senior players. :)

  • dummy4fb on June 29, 2011, 12:56 GMT

    VVS makes a very very good point, a stint in county cricket would really help young Indian batsmen to hone their technique in varied conditions, time playing county cricket benefited all of the fab four. But is there time in the packed international calendar? Also after the glamor of the IPL will these young batsmen want to play "boring old" county cricket.

  • gerardpereira20 on June 29, 2011, 12:46 GMT

    The Indian team are held together by Dravid and Laxman. It confirms what we already knew, there are no ready made replacements for Shewag, Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar, just as ther were no replacements for Ganguly and Kumble. Without the seniors the Indian team is on par with if not worse than the West Indies and that is shocking considering the state of West Indian Cricket. The "youngsters" Dhoni included are all ODI and T20 players with nither the tecnique nor temperment to play test cricket.

  • muski on June 29, 2011, 11:09 GMT

    Wow- Bangladeshi fan talking about cricket- Its high time ICC took away your test status. No wonder none of the top teams want a test with your country for another 12 years!!!. Hopefully by then you will learn to play some decent cricket. All the best

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