They are miles apart in their approach to build an innings. Geoffrey Boycott was one of those master technicians while Virender Sehwag loves to play strokes not found in the grammar books of cricket! But Boycott, the Yorkshireman, saw someone completely different to him, playing his hundredth test at the Wankhede and wondered at the Delhite’s instincts.
Excerpts from an exclusive interview:
Please describe ‘Virender Sehwag’ from a technical point of view?
He plays by instinct. Has got superb timing. He doesn’t fear at all. That’s why he can proudly say that he doesn’t care for any bowler in the whole world. Although he has limited footwork, he can manage to take inventive strokes because of his excellent eyesight and magnificent hand-eye coordination. If you carefully watch his batting you will see that he hits through the line. Such a player who can diminish any attack comes once in a generation.
What do you have to say about his upper-cut over the slip cordon?
I have never tried uppercut, but the current generation happily goes for such shots because of the T20 and one-day cricket. And Viru, Sachin has mastered that shot over third-man. Viru has a wide range of strokes. I always say that he can kill any bowler at any time.
Are you amazed by any of his qualities?
Virender Sehwag does not get upset easily. He has got a marvelous temperament. He takes everything in his stride. Never tried to change his style of game.
How will you explain Sehwag’s quality as a batsman?
Some magical thing is there in his batting which is something extraordinary. No one likes to miss his batting even if they need a cup of tea. They don’t even go to the toilet when he is at the crease. They want to be entertained by his batting. Unfortunately, there are not many batsmen who can entertain the crowd like him. He is a rare free spirit.
Why is he not equally successful in One-day cricket?
I really do not know. I don’t think he changes his gear in one-day cricket also. I can assume that the fielders are scattered all over the ground. There is hardly any slip and gully. Batsmen all over the world find it difficult in finding gaps. That may be one of the reasons. But for Viru, I would not like to predict anything on him.
How does he manage to keep cool and stay away from criticism?
It’s also quite a rare thing. All the criticism goes over his head. That’s why he can bat with a cool head. He doesn’t purposely take any pressure. I always feel that he bats as if he is there in the crease like a Sunday afternoon.
How difficult it is to keep away from various kinds of pressure?
Pressure does not get to him. It’s a rare quality. Keith Miller once said that there should not be any pressure in a cricket match. Because after all, it is only a game. Since Keith Miller was a pilot who had the experience of going to the battlefield, he knew that pressure during the fight was much more important than on a cricket field. We just cannot compare that pressure with the pressure of a cricket match. They see first-hand the soldiers are shooting down the enemies. That is called pressure. Viru is an ideal example of displaying no pressure. Nothing bothers him. And he makes it happen.
Greg Chappell finds a lot of similarities with Doug Walters. Do you agree?
No, I Don’t. I have spent 48 years in cricket … 25 years playing cricket and 23 years as a media man. I have never seen a player like him. He comes and opens the innings with ease whereas Dough Walters is a middle-order batsman. The toughest job of an opener is to open the innings. The ball is new, the wicket is unknown which Sehwag has been doing it for 12 years and has played 100 Test matches. I don’t even want to compare him with Chris Gayle. Once again, let me confirm that I have never seen a cricketer like him.
What will you be expecting from him personally?
I would be personally happy if he gets big scores in places like England where the ball seams a lot. If he can manage to do that, people will place him ahead.
Courtesy: Debasish Datta exclusively for Cricketsoccer, who is a renowned journalist from India.