I’m surprised to see the knives have started to come out for V.V.S. Laxman. Cricinfo collected advice from former players — always a source to be taken with caution — and a couple suggested bringing in Rohit Sharma in Laxman’s place. E.g., Sanjay Manjrekar:
“I would still drop VVS [Laxman] and get Rohit [Sharma] in for next Test. Makes long-term sense. Give Virat [Kohli] one more Test … just to be sure he does not belong here. VVS averages 20 in last 12 overseas innings. Even if he gets a good score in next Test, it will not serve India long. Also if Virat, before the tour, was India’s next big thing, should he not get more than two Tests on his first stint in Australia?”
The issue is that it’s silly to “make long-term sense” when you have a more pressing short-term goal — namely, avoiding a consecutive overseas whitewash. After this tour, India won’t play another overseas game for a year, giving youngsters ample time to fill in big shoes in less difficult terrain than the WACA. Besides, whatever success India has earned abroad has come from Sehwag, Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman. Let’s give them two more Tests, please.*
One small point to end: I think a reasonable case can be made that the weakest link in the line-up is Sehwag, who too often gets out early to an impetuous shot, exposing the middle order to a newish ball. I know people — i.e., Ian Chappell — like him for the attacking option he offers India, but I’d rather have two staid openers who kill the new ball than someone who leaves the No. 3 at his every beck and call.
* Did anyone else catch the anger in Sourav Ganguly’s voice when he started to talk about Michael Hussey? Ganguly said it was strange and ridiculous that Hussey was under pressure, given the Ashes series he had less than a year earlier. “Just because of his age,” Ganguly said, letting off more than a whiff of bitterness about the circumstances that led to his own retirement. I imagine Ganguly is secretly happy that his former position has yet to be permanently filled — but is there a lesson here about age and retirement? Is it better to let older players stay on if you don’t have a good replacement, or is it better to let them go and try and blood newbies on the spot? (Call this the Jay Leno-Conan O’Brien conundrum.)