Batting great VVS Laxman heaped praise on MS Dhoni, saying the World Cup-winning India captain is a classic example of a champion cricketer who fought against all the odds to find success at the highest level.
Speaking at India Today Conclave South in Visakhapatnam on Friday, Laxman said he was taken aback when he saw Dhoni’s biopic – MS Dhoni – An Untold Story as it gave him a glimpse of the challenges the wicketkeeper-batsman had faced during the early stages of his cricket career.
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“MS Dhoni is a classic example. When I saw his movie, I was taken aback. I didn’t know the trouble he went through. What is so great about MS is that he never ever give excuses for not getting opportunities. What you can do when you’re not getting enough opportunities keeps you going,” Laxman said.
“The example from the likes of MS Dhoni, RP Singh and MSK Prasad is something I always take inspiration. MSK Prasad is from Guntur, there were no practice facilities in Guntur during his initial years. He used to come to Hyderabad in summer, he stayed in a small room, where there was no AC. The fan used to hardly work there. He used to do extra practice then take a bus to Vidyanagar where he stayed, have lunch and come back to do keeping sessions. But the guy went on to play for India. He was one of the top wicketkeepers to fast bowlers.
“It’s not about where you come from, it’s about what you think. Irrespective of the city, the quality of a champion is the same.”
“When I saw Dangal, I was in tears because it reminded me of my own struggles. My friends, relatives criticised my parents by asking how can you allow your son to play cricket. All that were challenges. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the character of the particular champion.”
BCCI deserves a lot of credit for infrastructure improvement: Laxman
Meanwhile, Laxman also credited the Board of Control for Cricket in India for helping improve cricketing infrastructure in the country. The Hyderabad great also pointed out that the Indian Premier League (IPL) has played a key role in helping bring revenue into the game.
“A lot of credit should be given to BCCI. One of the reasons why IPL is important is the revenue it generates. All the two-tier and three-tier cities have unbelievable infrastructure now. The Vizag stadium is unbelievable. The stadiums in Thiruvananthapuram and Lucknow have world-class facilities.
“Back in the day, it wasn’t the case. I didn’t learn how to dive because we played on gravel, without a lush green outfield.”
‘Modern day cricketers face a lot of challenges’
Laxman also opined that there is more pressure on modern-day cricketers due to the competitiveness and the scrutiny they get on social media. However, the 44-year-old pointed out that cricketers can influence the younger generation positively by being responsible on social media.
“The youngsters can’t take cricket for granted these days. The current day cricketers face a lot of challenges. When you’re scrutinised, you have to always behave properly, like a role model. The influence you have on younger generation is crucial,” Laxman said.
“Everyone can comment about the lifestyle and performance of cricketers. Suppose you get trolled, it can emotionally disturb you. How do you cut that off is a challenge now. A lot of negativity can kill.
“The social media is also a great way to connect with your fans. This platform was never there during our time. During our days, the letters fans wrote to use would take a month or two to reach us.
“You talk about [Virat] Kohli’s Instagram where is posting videos of his fitness workouts. There are a lot of people who can get inspired about fitness, nutrition. All those can inspire the younger generation.”