Cricket has long been a sport associated with the aristocracy: some were born noble, some achieved nobility after they retired, and some just walk out onto the pitch as to the manor born. V. V. S. Laxman, tall and elegant, immediately struck one as a batsman who dismissed the ball off his bat rather as one might wave off a particularly clumsy butler at the dinner table. He hit the ball with as much frenzy as Madame Recamier ordering a whisky-and-soda, and yet that ball would slide silkily over the outfield with as much zip as if he’d beaten the hide off it.
After Rahul Dravid, Laxman is the second of the magnificent trio of batsmen who underpinned India’s middle order for so many years to retire. The third, of course, is Sachin Tendulkar. Laxman had been off his game for a while. One hopes that Tendulkar won’t allow his phenomenal standards to slip before he calls it a day. Here, for those who never had the chance to see him at his best, is the imperious Laxman having a little bit of fun with a cricket bat.