Tag: Virender Sehwag (page 1 of 2)

Virender Sehwag: a magnificent bastard who regularly induced pant-smearage in bowlers

Virender Sehwag retired from a fairly broad range of formats today. It’s about as close as you ever get to a proper retirement in this day and age when the Ghosts of Legends Past can regularly be seen haunting cricket grounds throughout the world.

We have pretty much no time to write about this at length, which is a shame, because considering he was only a batsman, Sehwag was really rather fun. Few players have possessed his ability to transform bowlers into smeared-panted long-hop machines and that ability warrants comment.

Sehwag liked to try and hit every ball for four. That was pretty much his gameplan and the fact that he succeeded for so long with such a pig-headedly flawed approach speaks loudly of his talent.

To finish off, here’s a fairly random selection of Sehwag articles, several of which will reappear in the list of related articles generated immediately beneath.


MS Dhoni and Virender Sehwag – do they want to punch each other’s lights out?

India’s tour of Australia has been a bit poo. They have lost a lot of cricket matches and as a result of all this losing, some of the players are getting tetchy with each other.

The media are gleefully pouncing on the tetchiness and seem to be weaving a few soap opera storylines. It might be that the players start to buy into these manufactured narratives a little bit, which will give them more impetus. Or maybe they don’t give a toss. Who knows?

The main story involves Dhoni and Sehwag. They’ve never been great mates, by all accounts. It’s been a long tour and they’re both a bit down, so the friction’s a bit more apparent. In India Today, it was described thus:

“The aggressive duo has been at the loggerheads threatening the very edifice of Team India.”

Great sentence, but a bit dramatic. Hell on earth, how are we ever going to scale that mole hill and will the maelstrom within this teacup never wane?

Virender Sehwag has something to shout about in one-day cricket

And it’s about time. We were talking about Sehwag’s unspectacular one-day record on this site only the other day. He’s properly addressed that now by hitting the highest one-day international score of all time.

Sehwag deserves a one-day record – not because he’s an exceptional one-day batsman, but because he’s an unforgettable cricketer. 15 hundreds in 240 matches is nowt to write home about for a one-day opener (Trescothick hit 12 in 123 matches, Upul Tharanga’s got 12 in 131). But 219? Hell, that warrants digging out the fountain pen and some coloured paper.

“Dear mum, played a top knock against the Windies today, so work’s going okay. Regarding the car, it seems to have stopped making that sound, so I’m just going to leave it and hope it’s sorted itself out. Finally, the cat had to have his teeth cleaned by the vet, which cost a bloody fortune – as usual – but he’s eating okay, so I think he’s fine as well.”

When Dravid is better than Tendulkar and Sehwag

Quite possibly our favourite cricketer at the minute

We went overboard with the Tour de France references last month, so we’ll avoid making one here, even though we want to.

Just as you can win the Vuelta a Espana without winning a single stage, so you can be considered the best batsman without being the best in every set of circumstances.

Sachin Tendulkar has a pretty solid claim to being the best batsman in the world because he’s scored plenty of runs in every country in every format of the game. That doesn’t mean he’s the best Indian batsman in seaming conditions though.

You’d have to go with Rahul Dravid, wouldn’t you? His cuts and deflections might not be so eye-catching as a booming six over cow corner, but each one demands exceptional skill, timing and judgement.

Virender Sehwag goes the opposite way – he is a worse batsman in seaming conditions. That isn’t to say that he becomes a bad batsman and it isn’t to say that he can’t score hundreds. It’s just to say he’s less likely to be successful. His method isn’t fundamentally flawed, it’s just not so well-suited to English conditions – it’s a question of degrees, not extremes.

Batting averages

Most of you know that we’ve little time for batting averages as evidence. They give a decent overview of a player, but the idea that Johnny Batstab is better than Micky Flingblade because he averages 1.3 more than him is a load of bollocks.

Averages reward certain players more than others. If you’re the kind of batsman who scores quickly and heavily on flat pitches but struggles against pace and swing, you’ll probably have a higher average than a guy who is best at getting runs in low scoring games.

Rahul Dravid’s career average of 53 is built on a reasonably eye-catching average of 50.75 in home conditions, but it is garnished by an average of 68.80 in England. There, he has scored six hundreds in 13 matches in what are frequently trying batting conditions – particularly for tourists.

In cycling terms, Dravid can hold his own in the time trials as well as the mountain stages.

Virender Sehwag can win the World Cup for India

Virender Sehwag gets the World Cup started

And he can do it by scoring slower and hitting fewer boundaries.

We often look for individual match-winners and few are so obviously identifiable as Virender Sehwag. Yet cricket is a team game and teams can do more than individuals when they get things right.

Sehwag has said that he wants to bat 50 overs in World Cup matches. India are almost certain to win matches if he can do that, but not because he’ll always have scored 175, like he did against Bangladesh in the first match of the tournament. To be honest, 40 overs should be what he’s aiming for.

There are three main jobs to be done during a typical subcontinental one-day innings and Sehwag should aim to do the first two:

  1. Get your team off to a flyer at the start
  2. Score steadily in the middle
  3. Belt the ball with all your might at the end

Sehwag does the first of those by default. There are no worries there. Achieving the first is pretty much unavoidable because that is how Sehwag is made.

The second is where he actually needs to make an effort and adapt. He doesn’t need to turn into Shivnarine Chanderpaul or anything, turning into Mr Risk-Free Accumulation, but he does need to ensure he stays in.

That would properly set up part three of the innings. Much as people assume that Sehwag is the best man for the closing slog, he really isn’t. He’s not a computer game character. He gets tired. A tired Sehwag is inferior to Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan who are at five, six and seven in India’s batting line-up.

  1. Sehwag start
  2. Sehwag-style consolidation
  3. Yuvraj/Dhoni/Pathan fresh, liberated assault

No other team in this World Cup can match that and that should be what India aim for. The batsmen responsible for the first and third parts of that are so good at their roles that those passages of play are almost risk-free. Bizarrely, it’s the middle part where things could go wrong – but not if Sehwag can will himself to drop down a gear.

Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag

At least only one of them's got a bat on this occasion

Comparison’s probably inappropriate, but Virender Sehwag is more eye-catching than Sachin Tendulkar these days and people get infatuated with the way he plays. As we asked this morning: which is more memorable, a Virender Sehwag double hundred or a Virender Sehwag 15? His achievements are high profile.

A couple of jaw-dropping facts though. This was Sehwag’s 19th Test century and his 31st in internationals. Tendulkar’s was his 47th Test century and his 92nd in internationals.

There’s a case for saying that Virender Sehwag became exceptional where Sachin Tendulkar always was exceptional. We’re sure Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel have been pondering that a lot.

Really, who cares? Comparing these two is to totally miss the point.

Virender Sehwag’s batting average

Sehwag plays a shot in his classy eight off 12 deliveriesAfter this latest hundred, Virender Sehwag has a Test batting average of 53.52. That’s very high, but in this day and age, not outlandishly so.

You expect Sehwag to average more than that. This is largely because when he’s in form, he’s REALLY in form. He scores twice as quickly as everyone else and seems no more likely to get out, so you imagine he’ll average twice as much. He’s also prone to Ultimate Boot Filling – he’s not a man to lose concentration when he reaches his hundred.

So why does he only (only!) average 53.52?

Well, put it this way, which is more memorable, a Virender Sehwag double hundred or a Virender Sehwag 15?

Virender Sehwag is a bastard and here’s why

Virender Sehwag is a bastard because he plays too many good innings to keep track of and there aren’t enough superlatives to spread among them.

Consider this: Sehwag’s last Test innings was 131. That was a failure.

His first four Test hundreds were all under 150; all failures. After that, he cranked out 11 successive hundreds in excess of 150. Five of those 11 were over 200 and two of those five were over 300. Can you remember them all? We can’t.

And what do you say about an innings of 195? It’s not ‘unsurpassed’ because it’s frequently been surpassed. It’s not magnificent because then what was the innings we always refer to as ‘the Virender Sehwag 201 not out on a shitty pitch‘?

Ordinarily, if a batsman’s well on track to hit the fastest 300 of all time, you’d feel it might even be acceptable to stoop to poetry. But you thought the same thing the last time Sehwag hit the fastest 300 of all time – he’s trying to break his own record. If you’d cranked out some flowery rhymes back then, where would you be now? You’d have no room for manoeuvre.

You have to reevaluate how you apply adjectives. We’ve a new system:

  • 100 = okay
  • 150 = good
  • 200 = very good
  • 300+ and feats of rapid scoring = special adjectives reserved solely for Virender Sehwag

To knacker up bowling figures and careers is one thing. To knacker up the English language is going some.

Virender Sehwag is what Test cricket is all about

Virender Sehwag: 284 not out overnight. This was Test cricket.

The Sri Lankan players couldn’t just soak it up for 20 overs before seeing if they could do better. This problem wasn’t going away. But what they had to endure almost all day, the crowd got to enjoy all day – that’s the other thing about Test cricket.

We’re not hugely enamoured of matches where batsmen dominate. The other day we complained about the one dimensional nature of a Twenty20 match between South Africa and England. This wasn’t at all like that.

In the South Africa-England match, the batsmen only played the mow to cow corner. Sehwag’s innings has been completely different. Virender Sehwag’s batting approach is all about dominating, but it’s not a bludgeoning, repetitive domination. It’s sophisticated.

It’s the difference between dominating for 12 overs with one muscular shot and dominating for a whole day under a fierce sun, playing reverse sweeps, lofted drives, deft cuts, leg glances and every other shot that might steer the ball between the fielders.

It’s the difference between Twenty20 and Tests.

Virender Sehwag wins two matches

Sehwag's bandana of piracyIndia couldn’t have won the first Test without Sachin Tendulkar’s contribution, but we’re a great believer in sportsfolk affecting the opposition and influencing matches that way.

We wrote about how Virender Sehwag’s approach to batting turns bowlers into smeared-panted long-hop machines, but we reckon he transformed the whole England side into a defensive outfit who could then be conquered by other batsmen. We’d go so far as to say that if a different batsman had opened and scored the same number of runs as Sehwag, England would have won.

Most strikingly England’s opening bowlers are irreparably damaged, but the whole team’s been knocked down a few notches and we’d be surprised if they could muster the confidence and the will to attack that would be vital if they were to win the second Test.

People often mistake outward confidence for the real thing and think that positive talk actually helps, but in reality all that’s near worthless. If two opponents both believe that they’ll win, one will be proved wrong. If only one side believes that they’ll win, it’s no contest.

Speaking about Sehwag, Andrew Strauss said:

“He plays a game most people are unfamiliar with. He almost manipulates the field. You change it and it’s like he says: ‘Right, I’m going to hit it somewhere else now’.”

Do England believe that they can the better of Sehwag if they say that about him?

India dropped Virender Sehwag once. Mental.

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