Sunday, January 19, 2014

Who Is Afraid of Virender Sehwag?

By John Cheeran
Who is afraid of Virender Sehwag? Alas, no one. Not bowlers, anyway. The most destructive of modern batsmen, who pushed the boundaries of batting along with the Sri Lankan genius Sanath Jayasuriya, cannot even contemplate his retirement from the game because his form is so wretched with the bat that the thought evokes only a yawn.

Sehwag is nowhere near the Indian team. He played his last Test almost a year ago, in March 2013, scoring 6 in India’s first innings against Australia when Murali Vijay (167) and Cheteshwar Pujara (204) laid the foundation for the hosts’s victory. Last heard, even the IPL franchise Delhi Daredevils are unlikely to retain Sehwag for the league’s seventh edition, when the deadline (January 10) to submit the list ends.

The only way to reclaim your spot in the Indian XI is by scoring heavily in domestic cricket and force Sandeep Patil, the chairman of the national selection committee, to suggest your name to captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But Sehwag’s batting average in the current season of Ranji Trophy is worse than that of tailender Ashish Nehra. Sehwag logged 234 runs averaging 19.50 from 13 innings while Nehra made 182 in eight innings at 22.75.

Normally, at such juncture, critics issue advisories to the batsman to call it a day. May be you too would have issued a note to Mr Sachin Tendulkar in his autumn, urging him to quit from international cricket, because you somehow cared for the guy.

In Sehwag’s case, no one seems to care. Neither the Board of Control for Cricket in India, nor the Indian captain, who has just lost both the one-day and Test series in South Africa but sports the looks of a Nobel peace prize winner for avoiding a massacre in Johannesburg and Durban, cares for Sehwag.

And this indifference reaffirms the business of sport. It does not run on recollections of past glory. Now you don’t need Sehwag because you have Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane. You in fact even have a Shikhar Dhawan, a poor version of Sehwag, but with a high sense of exhibitionist twirl.

But remember Sehwag is no ordinary batsman even though, now, he is worse than ordinary. No one has pulled off the kind of feats Sehwag has done for India. Not even Mr Sachin Tendulkar. Sehwag holds the highest score by an Indian Test batsman --319. The next two best Test scores again belong to Sehwag -- 309 and 293. He is one of the four batsmen in the world who has scored two triple centuries in Tests. He has the fastest triple century in international cricket (300 from 278 balls). Sehwag also equalled Tendulkar’s feat of scoring a double century in ODIs. This is just for records.

His true worth lies elsewhere. As everyone knows, Sehwag upended cricket’s conventions. He redefined the opener’s role in Test cricket. He blurred the barriers between Tests and ODIs. He did not care for the game’s history or for its legends. His batting, at its best, is hardly flawless. He is an inspirational player who relies on reflexes. After 35 years, his eyesight is not what it used to be. The spectacles have not restored his vision for batting; it has reflected only in a string of poor scores in Ranji Trophy.

Sehwag needs help. Badly. More than any technical input, Sehwag needs to be reminded who he is. He should be told why everyone was afraid of Virender Sehwag. For someone who has been studiously ignorant of the game’s history, he should be reminded what his contributions for Indian cricket have been.

Before he becomes a mere statistic, Sehwag needs to be given a last chance to remind all of us that we will not see for a long time a certain kind of light  on the cricket field. For, he is no Corey Anderson, an instant hit. No one advocates an orchestrated farewell circus, but help can be a few words from his peers that he can still do it.

Will Mahendra Singh Dhoni be gracious enough to rekindle the fire in Sehwag’s belly? Just say you do care.

Or is Indian cricket still afraid of Sehwag?

No comments:

John Cheeran at Blogged