It is tougher to handle success than failure: V.V.S. Laxman

Mumbai: Celebrated former Indian cricketer Vangipurapu Venkata Sai Laxman, whose biography is titled “281 and beyond”, says that dealing with success is much tougher than failure and that is why it is important to have a strong support system in the form of coaches, friends and family to sustain a long sports career.

During an interactive session on Thursday night with noted sports commentator Harsha Bhogle, the former right-hand batsman opened up on his emotional roller-costar rider during his cricketing career.

About what made him openly talk about depression in one of the chapters titled “Of Laughter and Loneliness” in the book, Laxman said: “It is tougher to handle success than failure. In India, if you are successful, you get carried away very easily. If you are going through a bad patch, you get support and you work hard to bounce back. That’s why having a support system is crucial in such a situation.”

“We are not taught how to handle success. I have seen a lot of talented players, who unfortunately do not have the support system, soon drift away. That not only happens because of how they are dealing with failure but also the success,” said the cricketer who created history by scoring 281 runs against Australia in Eden Gardens in 2001 after India trailed by 274 runs in the first innings.

It’s was rated as the greatest Test performance of the last 50 years by fellow-players, commentators and journalists in a poll conducted by ESPN’s Cricket Monthly digital magazine.

Thanking his family and friends the ‘non-regular’ opener said: “A sportsman cannot sustain a long career without a strong support system. I am therefore really fortunate to have my father and family, my coach, later in life; I have got a support system in the form of my wife Shailaja.”

Though Laxman was one of the Indian players who performed at his best against the top international cricket team of his time, Australia, he also went through a rough time because of a bad patch and injuries.

Recalling his early days in international cricket, the 44-years-old sportsman said: “In the first four years of my professional career I struggled very hard. I had expectations from myself, as did my parents, but things were not falling in place. I did not know how to cope up. I was so desperate to establish myself in international cricket.”

The evening was graced by Sachin Tendulkar who also shared some of the amusing dressing room stories and praised Laxman on how he fought his difficult times on a tour of South Africa.

“I think from the beginning I wanted to share my journey (in the book) as it is. There are very many challenges we international sports people face; in fact, I think everyone in all walks of life is facing problems in on a daily basis. It is important to address this and talk about it,” Laxman said.

The book has been co-written by a veteran cricket writer R. Kaushik and captures the journey of the Hyderabad boy from his childhood, through his sports career and life after retirement from cricket in 2012.

“Our cricket is a very glamorous game, we are fortunate to get all the limelight, support and admiration from fans. I am not denying any of it. But deep down, we too have a hard time. Though we think that sportsmen are preparing themselves to face all the obstacles in life because we are fighters, we too feel emotionally low at times,” he shared.

Cricketers like Ashish Nehra, Dinesh Kartik, Sandeep Patil, Saba Karim among several others were present at the event.