When the time was off colour, the same VVS Laxman was seen by many as a burden, a burden obstructing the progress of younger players who were waiting in the wings for a chance. Now that the veteran batsman has quit, the same 'many' are appalled and cannot find enough words to hail his greatness. What remains constant in all of this is the fact that his retirement has opened the field for several youngsters to showcase their skill.
There is no questioning the legendary career of Laxman. With close to 9000 runs in Tests and several innings that took India out of murky waters, the 37-year-old was a pillar of strength. Although his place in the cricket hall of fame is richly deserved, it is always heartening to see new players being given a chance to take over. In that sense and in that sense alone, Laxman's decision appears mature, sensible and vital.
A change of guard is an accepted norm in life and more so in the realms of cricket. Bashed from several quarters when form evaded him, Laxman's tale has not been too different from any other. Each time a player has gone through a rough phase, he has found support coming in trickles but criticism in sack-loads. So also is the norm that when a player retires - he is praised beyond limit regardless of all the questions that were raised against him through his bad patch. Ask cricketers though, and most are likely to agree that it is better to not be appreciated for centuries than be ridiculed relentlessly for ducks in return.