Dravid, Laxman should decide when to quit: Langer

Jan 22, 2012, 06:12 IST | Sai Mohan

That's Aussie batting coach Justin Langer's advice to under-fire Indian batsmen Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. Langer himself hung his boots after Australia whitewashed England 5-0 in the 2006-07 Ashes

That's Aussie batting coach Justin Langer's advice to under-fire Indian batsmen Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. Langer himself hung his boots after Australia whitewashed England 5-0 in the 2006-07 Ashes

Former Australia opener Justin Langer hung his boots after his team finished a rare whitewash of England in the 2006-07 Ashes. His Indian contemporaries, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid, are not likely to feel a similar high, in the eventuality of them calling it quits after the ongoing Test series against Australia. Both Dravid and Laxman are under attack to make room for youngsters.

Rahul Dravid

Langer, now Australia's batting coach, has some advice for the stalwarts. "Follow your heart, that's what I'd be telling them" he told Sunday MiD DAY during a pleasant stroll from the Adelaide Oval to his hotel.  "Nobody actually knows whether they should give up on cricket. Only they will know when it's time to give up. They will know when the time is right. Until then, everything else is just talk. They are great batsmen, absolute legends of the game, and deserve to call time on their watch," he added.

Justin Langer

Laxman's form hasn't particularly found sympathy among detractors back home. He has averaged 22.75 (four Tests) and 17.00 (three Tests) in England and Australia respectively.  When asked if Laxman's career would be scarred if he was to retire following a potential whitewash, Langer said: "In a perfect world, you always want to go out on a high. But, the world is not always a perfect place.

VVS Laxman

All I can say is that I am very thankful to have gone out with Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath (at Sydney in 2006-07) after we had just won 5-0 in a Test series against England. So I'm very pleased that I had that opportunity. Even if Laxman was to go after a whitewash, he'll remain a great player," said Langer, who scored 223 against India at Sydney in 1999-2000.

Between his Test debut in January 1993, and 1999, Langer played only 15 Tests for Australia and averaged in the mid 30s. But all that changed soon. "I would say the fall of the new millennium was the turning point in my career. That knock of 127 at Hobart against Pakistan (when Australia chased down 369 on the final day), followed by the 223 against India, and the rest is the history. Then the next chapter began when I opened the batting in the fifth Test at Oval in the 2001 Ashes in England," he said.

Indeed. Between 1999 until retirement, Langer scored 6,804 runs in 90 Tests at 46.60. Langer said it was unfair that he played only eight ODIs despite finishing with a strike rate of 88. When asked if he was stereotyped a Test specialist, he said: "I think so -- right back to my first Test against West Indies, here at the Adelaide Oval, people thought I wasn't cut out for limited-overs cricket.

But, I used to always tell Haydos (Matthew Hayden) that I was the more aggressive opener (laughs). But, the popular perception was that Matthew was the aggressor and I was the sheet anchor. Well, I would still remind him that I could score quickly (laughs)," he  signed off.

Meditation and mastery...
Justin Langer told Sunday MiD DAY yesterday that meditation has helped him a lot in his career. He recalled India pacer Javagal Srinath sledging him in the 1999-2000 series. "All I remember from that Test match is Srinath telling me that I am the worst batsman he ever faced in Test cricket. He kept telling me that over and over and over again. I just had to go into my meditative state and remain calm.

That was a great knock," said Langer, a believer in Buddhist philosophy. New Zealander John Wright had a role to play in Langer's introduction to meditation. "It was way back in 1993 when I had just started playing Test cricket. I was speaking to John Wright during a Test match in New Zealand.

He asked me 'do you know anything about meditation?' I told him, 'sorry mate, I have no clue what that means.' And then I got dropped from the Test team. After a while, I saw an advertisement in a newspaper about a meditation course. Since then, I have been meditating every day of my life. I am, what I am today, because of my spiritual calling," hesaid. 

Sir Don Bradman

Going past The Don...
Justin Langer, who played 105 Tests with a batting average of a little over 45, said his proudest moment was when he surpassed Sir Donald Bradman as the leading run-getter in first-class cricket in July 2009. "It gave me great satisfaction to do that.
I still consider that one of my great feats. I was very humbled when I achieved that. I obviously played a lot more cricket than Bradman.

But that achievement made me more hungry for runs, though I had already retired from international cricket," the Western Australian said. 

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