Was Laxman a victim of ill-treatment from the BCCI and selectors?
New Delhi: The sudden announcement of retirement by VVS Laxman has sparked off a controversy amid talk that the stylish batsman was not treated well by the Cricket Board and the selection committee.
Laxman created a flutter by deciding to quit international cricket with immediate effect despite being selected in the team for the two-match Test series against New Zealand, beginning in his hometown Hyderabad from August 23.
What came as a major surprise was that Laxman, a veteran of 134 Tests during which he won many a match for India, turned down the opportunity to play a farewell Test in front of his home crowd.
What prompted Laxman to take the decision immediately was not known but it is being speculated that the Hyderabad stalwart had been `hurt` by some of the developments in the last few weeks.
Laxman, on his part, did not give any clue as to why he called it quits but all that he said was that he listened to his "inner voice" to come to the conclusion that it was time to move on.
A day after the announcement, there was intense speculation on what led him to hang his boots. The BCCI, on its part, insisted that there was no pressure on Laxman to retire.
"The BCCI President was aware of Laxman`s decision to quit before the two-Test series. He took the decision after talking to the BCCI President," Board Secretary Sanjay Jagdale said.
However, the BCCI was taken aback by his decision to not play a single match in the series against New Zealand.
"We really had no clue, may be something happened which made him take that decision but we have never put any pressure on him," a top BCCI official said on condition of anonymity.
"Maybe some negative comments in columns by former cricketers hurt him and it could be that the BCCI did not defend him which could have added to his hurt," he added.
"Obviously he was not thinking about retirement. No one discussed anything with him. Maybe he wanted to show that he could retire on his own terms," the official said.
"The selectors had picked him for the series against New Zealand so there was no question of putting pressure on him. Why he chose not to play, only he can explain," said another official.
Chairman of selectors Krishnamachari Srikkanth, who will relinquish office next month, is also being blamed for his role in Laxman`s retirement.
"We respect his decision to retire with immediate effect. We wish him and his family all the best after retirement. He was a team player. He played with great deal of pride for his country. He won many matches for the country, his contribution has been great," Srikkanth said.
Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly had alleged that Srikkanth did not have the communication skills to deal with seniors.
"Srikkanth has a big problem in communicating. A player like Laxman would not train so hard just to keep himself fit for two Tests. If they (selectors) conveyed their opinion to Laxman earlier, this situation would not have surfaced. Why they stretched till August? Probably, the selectors` judgement has hurt him (Laxman) the most," Ganguly said.
Ganguly also felt that Srikkanth`s selection policy would be detrimental to Indian cricket`s progress.
"They don`t select a team taking the future of Indian cricket into account. They merely do a balancing act by means of removing and adding somebody. Indian cricket will not progress this way," he had stated.
It is also being speculated that one of the selectors had called Laxman after picking the team and told him that this would be his farewell series. That hurt the veteran and is believed to be the main reason for his decision.
"In a way he wanted to hit back at the selectors and tell them that `I would retire on my on terms`," a source said.
That the selectors did not have a clear communication with the senior players had earlier come to light when they had picked in the ODI team for the series against England last year.
Rahul Dravid, who was in form in the Test format, was surprisingly picked despite not playing in the ODIs for two years, which prompted Dravid to retire from ODIs immediately.
In a way, it was a snub to the selectors who had dropped him from the ODI team even when he was delivering.
Like in case of Dravid, even Laxman`s teammates were taken aback and it was evident from their reactions.
Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh have all expressed surprise at the decision through twitter.