New Delhi:Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly have decided to walk into the sunset of their glorious careers but India's latest entrant to the 100-Test club, VVS Laxman has indicated he will not hang up his boots as long as he is enjoying the game.
Laxman, who became the eighth Indian to have played 100 or more Tests, says he is not thinking of anything else right now except to contribute with his bat and make the team become the number one in Test cricket.
"I am enjoying my game and I am still able to contribute to the team. The word 'contribution' is very important to me. I have the responsibility of doing well for the team. As long as I am contributing with good performances, I am not really thinking about anything else," he said.
"I have never set targets. I never played for numbers. It's better to take each series as it comes. In this series we want to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and we are focusing our energies on achieving that. At the moment we want to be number one in Test cricket and we are confident of achieving that. As long as I am contributing to that goal, I'll be more than happy," he said when asked about how many more Tests he intends to play.
The stylish middle-order batsman had pulled India out of the rut on a number of occasions and said he loved pressure situations.
"With experience, I have learnt a lot - not only from the ups and downs. The mind is the most important aspect. That's something I am very proud of, and I am proud of my innings in pressure situations. I really relish pressure situations, when you have to bail the team out, and you can't do that if you are not mentally strong," he told a cricket website.
Asked about his special liking for the Australians, the fighter in Laxman comes out to the fore.
"I like the way they play their cricket. I like that aggression and I like playing fast bowling. Playing against them is always a challenge, and when people are trying to get you out, you also get the chance to score runs.
"It's something that started early. I played them at Under-19 level, and at that level they had the most fearsome bowling attack. (Brett) Lee, (Jason) Gillespie, (Matthew) Nicholson. I enjoyed playing against them and got some success. It carried on from there."
Looking back at 12 years of his illustrious career, Laxman said he was satisfied with what he has achieved but felt he could have scored more hundreds.
"I am quite satisfied... Because, firstly, with my background, I never thought I would become a cricketer - I wanted to become a doctor.
"I'm quite happy with my contribution to the team. I'm quite happy with the journey I have had. It has made me a better person. I handle situations in life, as a whole, better. And that's something I'm very proud of. I can take confidence from my career.
"But I would have loved to have more hundreds. There have been opportunities for me to get a hundred when a specialist batsman was batting well along with me but I got out. There have also been times when I could have got a hundred but was left stranded. So there will always be ifs and buts. But in retrospect I should have got more hundreds.
"Probably the batting positions - when you are batting at number six or even five, you don't have the opportunity, especially in the subcontinent, to get big hundreds,"
"If your team is doing well, invariably you have to increase the run-rate because you are looking for a declaration. And if the team isn't doing well, you are stranded with the tailenders," said Laxman who has an average of just above 45 and 13 centuries to his kitty.
Laxman, however, would not hide the disappointment of missing out the 2003 World Cup and then the shutters falling on his ODI career.
"There was definitely frustration and a lot of disappointment (at missing the 2003 World Cup), because I was preparing really well. To be very honest, it was the biggest shock of my life until then. Even when I was dropped from the One-day squad in 2005, I was still contributing to the team in ODIs. Suddenly the selectors dropped me. I was still performing in whatever opportunities I was getting. I got a hundred in the Challenger Trophy, but still I wasn't picked in the ODI side.
"I wanted to play in both forms of the game. I was sure I could contribute in One-day cricket, even win matches for the team, but I was not given an opportunity."
Laxman would not agree that concentrating only on Test cricket has made him a better player in the longer version of the game.
"I don't agree, because when I used to play One-day and Tests I was always in touch with the game, always playing at the international level. Even though breaks help you in physical reconditioning, if you are playing continuously in both forms of the game you are in better touch than when you are playing in one.
"When you are playing both forms of the game you enter a match in full rhythm because you are playing high-quality bowling day in and day out. So I think playing both forms of the game is much better than playing just one."