VVS Laxman reminisces about when MS Dhoni drove the team bus and his controversy with him

MS Dhoni was captain of India when VVS Laxman called time on his career in 2012.

VVS Laxman praises MS Dhoni for his calmness in his autobiography

MS Dhoni made his Test debut for India in 2005 and in 2008 he became the captain in all the three formats for the nation. It was a challenge for him to take care of the youngsters in the team all the while dealing with the seniors in the squad as well.

MS Dhoni played with some of the greatest Indian batsmen of all time like Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, and VVS Laxman; collectively known as the Fab Five of the Indian batting golden era. Dhoni not only played with them, but he also captained them and often was targeted by the media if any one of them was dropped from the team.

However, VVS Laxman in his autobiography only has good words to say for MS Dhoni and that begins with one of the most torrid times for Indian cricket and Dhoni, when Team India lost eight consecutive Tests, four each to England and Australia in 2011.

VVS writes, “MS Dhoni’s calmness and equanimity are legendary. He had seen nothing but success until the tour of England in 2011. We had lost 4–0 in England and had already lost the first three Tests in Australia by the end of that year, and were heading for another whitewash. I was a mess, as were most of the guys, but MS was unbelievably composed. Not once did he lash out, and at no stage did he give the impression that he was frustrated or helpless. I prided myself on being level-headed, but MS took it to another level when he said, ‘Lachi bhai, what is the point of feeling dejected and depressed? All it will do is harm your performance even more.

He also recalls one of his fond memories of Dhoni, “One of my abiding memories is of MS driving the team bus to the hotel in Nagpur, during my 100th Test. I couldn’t believe my eyes — the captain of the team driving us back from the ground! It was his first Test in charge after Anil’s (Kumble) retirement, and he didn’t seem to have a care in the world. But he was like that, playful and grounded.

Also, Laxman writes about Dhoni’s open door policy saying, “MS never lost the joy, the playfulness. I have never met anyone quite like him. His room was open to all when he first came into the squad, and even during my last Test, by which time he was already one of India’s most successful captains, he didn’t shut the door until it was time for him to hit the bed.

VVS Laxman was one of the few players never to have any major controversy to his name, but he inadvertently caused one during his retirement, as his quip about MS Dhoni was twisted in the media.

VVS Laxman with his wife and kids during his farewell ceremony after announcing his retirement in 2012  

VVS Laxman retired from the game in 2012 and during his retirement speech, he recalls, “After I informed the media of my decision to retire, the questions flowed. ‘Have you informed your teammates?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Have you spoken to Dhoni, what did he have to say?’

‘Everyone knows how difficult it is to reach Dhoni,’ I joked. Little did I realize that this would trigger the first and only controversy of my cricketing career.

I had unwittingly provided fodder to the media, who started to speculate that I had retired in a huff because MS and I had differences, that there was a rift between us. It wasn’t funny at the time, but one of the headlines the following day read, ‘VVS, retired hurt'.

VVS Laxman then remembers meeting MS Dhoni after the whole issue and writes, “When I met MS, he took one look at me and burst out laughing. ‘Laxman bhai, you are not used to all these controversies, but I am. Don’t take this to heart. We all know that sometimes, facts need not come in the way of a good story.’ I was once again struck by his maturity, his simplicity, and how easily he had put me at ease.

Even today, despite repeated denials, people tell me — not ask, but tell — that I retired because of MS. I have learned not to be affected by it anymore,” VVS writes.

(Excerpts from VVS Laxman’s autobiography “281 and Beyond” via TOI)


By Jatin Sharma - 18 Nov, 2018

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