Recent Comments

November 2008
« Oct   Dec »

Rob Smyth: India’s Sehwag one of the greatest

November 26th, 2008 by Rob Smyth in England in India, Test cricket and tagged , , , ,

Virender Sehwag turned 30 last month. For most cricketers that involves a reappraisal of where they are heading and a modification of their game to begin the slow wind-down to retirement. But Sehwag is not like most cricketers. External factors – age, pitch conditions, quality of bowling, match situation, the alignment of the planets – have never penetrated the enormous bubble inside which he bats, and nor will they now: against first Australia and now England he has simply carried on as he did in his twenties.

Despite that, Sehwag remains relatively unappreciated. In a culture where sporting greatness is seemingly afforded any Tom, Dick or KP, many have declined to honour Sehwag thus. There are many possible reasons for this – his remarkably inconsistent nature, his contempt for the textbook, the shadow cast by India’s legendary middle order, maybe even his working-class background – but they are all irrelevant.

Sehwag is a gloriously unique sportsman, who has been responsible for some of the most staggering feats in cricket history. Like his spiritual twin Adam Gilchrist, he transcends statistics, yet they are still enormously impressive. He averages 51.96 in Tests, mostly opening the batting, and allies that to a strike-rate that is comfortably the highest of any opener to have scored 500 Test runs. Sir Donald Bradman and Brian Lara are the only other men to have scored two Test triple-hundreds. Sehwag brought up his and India’s first, against Pakistan at Multan, with a six. He has scored Test centuries against every country save Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, and in every country except Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and New Zealand. In one-day internationals his strike rate is 99. He’s an all-track bully.

The weakest songs on his greatest hits album are stronger than the strongest on those of 99 per cent of batsmen. This year alone he has played two innings of an audacity that is difficult to comprehend even months after the event. Against South Africa he hammered Test cricket’s fastest triple century, from just 278 balls (think about that: he scored 300 from 278 balls. In a TEST match). And in a low-scoring Test at Galle, against a rampant Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan, he blitzed India to victory with 201 not out in a total of 329.

These are mind-boggling achievements, yet there is an inclination to chuckle and say, ‘Oh, that’s just Sehwag’, like a parent laughing at their child’s eccentricities. Sehwag has been compared to Sachin Tendulkar, with whom he shares a bewitching little mastery, but a more relevant reference point is surely Lara. Like Lara, Sehwag scores monstrous hundreds at breakneck speed; like Lara, his form fluctuates wildly, surely a mark of the truest genius; like Lara, when the mood takes him there is absolutely nothing a bowler can do to avoid being pummeled.

In the eyes of many, those qualities elevate Lara above the other great batsmen of his generation – Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh – yet the fact that Sehwag has extended the Lara template ever so slightly seems to count against him, as if he has crossed the line between greatness and frivolousness. Quite the opposite. It is said of many sportsmen, but with Virender Sehwag it feels safe to opine that, truly, we will never see his like again. He’s not just great. He’s one of the greatest.

Rob Smyth is a freelance journalist

Posted in England in India, Test cricket |

22 Responses to “Rob Smyth: India’s Sehwag one of the greatest”

  1.   JP says:

    To add to this, his last 11 centuries have all been greater than 150!

  2.   Sehwag: Pretty Special « says:

    [...] 26, 2008 by A P Webster Just how good is Sehwag? Is he one of the greatest ever One Day cricketers? Is he worthy of his own cult? Should everyone else just give up and go [...]

  3.   Som says:

    Sehwag is no freak of nature, he’s a force of nature. Everything about him is so unadulterated. The best part of his batting is Sehwag, a simple man of humble background, keeps it simple. The follow through of the bat tells you the entire story. He doesn’t hold anything back and hesitation is just not in his dictionary. It’s a full, free-flowing swing of the bat and he never checks his shot. His fearless can’t be equated with foolhardy aggression. Mind you, he’s no mindless slogger but one of the cleanest striker of the ball.

    And regarding greatness, this is a crown that comes with age. Sehwag is here to stay and it’s just a matter of time before he joins that elite club after hanging in for another couple of years.

  4.   David Barry says:

    Further to your comment on having the highest strike rate of any opener, he’s at #4 on the all-time strike rate list, behind Afridi, Gilchrist, and Kapil Dev.

  5.   Blogs feed information frenzy on Mumbai attacks (Reuters) | Telecoms says:

    [...] terror attacks | Daily Times …Midnight terror strikes Mumbai, at least 78 killed (Fifth Lead …» Rob Smyth: India’s Sehwag one of the greatest The Wisden …Deccan Mujiheedin eguals Indian Mujiheedin « Stefan Hagberg’s WeblogBlogs That May Also be of [...]

  6.   Mukund says:

    virender shewaq is the best batsman india have, if he plays another 6-7 years he will definitely be indias if not the worlds best test batsman after the don. And im sure his strike rate will still be 75+ if not higher

  7.   KG says:

    Pretty soon, Sehwag will score his third triple century. Then, he will stand alone as having done something even Bradman could not.

    He also has already scored the two highest scores at faster than a run a ball : 319 vs. SA and 254 vs. Pak.

  8.   pookodesanthosh says:

    the reason why sehwag is underrated according to me:
    1. in india, the media led by mumbai never allow any cricketer to compare with sachin. they get irritated. the animosity of the media against sehwag started with this. from then on, they always celebrated viru’s failures (ha! he is gone!)and played down his achievements.
    2. the media promotes only poster boys in cricket, a tradition started in the 2000s. for them sehwag, a straight forward rustic guy who doesn’t know english well can’t never be one.thus a painful 50 from dhoni or yuvi is celebrated while a furious 30 from sehwag criticised. ( see he is inconsistent!)
    3.the media and most of the cricket pundits in india barring ravi shastri and sanjay manjrekar alwaqys believe viru is fluke player. when he first scored a triple instead of adoring they resorted to finding reasons for the score; flat pitch, luck, inept bowling etc. but these men were forced to eat shit when he scored a second one!
    4. the followers at large in india are always after record breakers. how many 100/50 a batsman scored, how many records he possess, etc etc. sehwag never really goes after records coz he is a pure batsman indicated by his simple method- ‘if a ball is there to be hit, i will hit it’.

    no wonder, its people like you and those outside india knows where this exceptional talent belongs in the cricket arena; ian chappel and ian healy know this as well.

    thanks for your wonderful piece of writing.

  9.   Sidharth says:

    I believe that Sehwag is a bigger player than Lara. Both of Lara’s triple centuries led to draws. Sehwag won one of the matches against Pakistan with his triple. Lara always used to play for records whereas Sehwag is the perfect team man caring two hoots for personal records. But yes he does not get the credit that the others in the team get. Its his opening batting and the breathtaking speed at which he scores that made it easier for the Fab Four to win more matches. It has been Sehwags advent in 2001 that has led to more victories abroad for India.

    Sehwag is also very consistent. He lost form only for a temporary time. That his test average has always hovered around 50 proves that

  10.   Ganesh says:

    Dear Rob,

    You have hit the nail on the head when you say that Sehwag is one of the greatest. Though I’m a Sachin fan I truly believe that Sehwag long ago has transcended that level from frivolousness to greatness. There definitely is a method to his seeming madness. No batsmen on earth can score triples against SA and Pakistan even on the flattest of tracks without technique or flair.

    The only reasoning to his not being accepted by the media and the population in general is that India for long has been brought up believing that technical correctness in a batsmen is the ultimate virtue of his greatness. Sachin combines technique with improvisation therefore he is considered as a genius. In Sehwag’s case the spectators fail to comprehend the stroke played for it is not played in any normal textbook way.

    I believe that Sehwag should be forthwith included in the panel of India’s modern greats.

  11.   Mayank says:

    I am from Delhi and am therefore quite biased, but I refuse to understand how or why he isn’t rated amongst the very best India has ever produced. Just ask the Aussies and they will tell you that he is the one batsman in a star-studded Indian line-up they truly fear.

    And that’s the thing with him, his brand of no-fear, audacious cricket is so different from what we are normally used to that it takes on a whole different, more thrilling meaning.

    Also while obviously people will forever point to his two triple hundreds, there is one other stat of his which is perhaps more revealing. The last ELEVEN times(!) he has scored a hundred he has gone past 150, that simply for a player who bats like him is astounding and further testament to the fact that he is simply brilliant.

  12.   Sathnam Mann says:

    Rob it’s because he’s North Indian.South Indians of mumbai have controlled the media.Yuvraj & Sehwag are criticised for stupid reasons like their love-life & alleged inconsistency resp.Sehwag has been inconsistent-in ODI’s.In tests he’s got 100’s against every1 ,everywhere too.Zim & BAn aren’t counted.He’s been to NewZealand once.2 tests & 7 ODI’s were played by India there.He did get 100’s in the ODI’s there.The scores in that series that was played on jungle wickets were India 90 all out ,New Zealand 91/8 Ind99 all out,NZ91 all out & so on.Some Idiots state that he gets out at times after getting a ’start’ & getting ’set’.Sometimes Viru reaches 60-70 runs without getting ’set’.Thats his greatness.He does what every batsman is sposed to do -get runs.& he has a brilliant technique.Look at how balanced he is.Still head great eye & natural talent make him a lot better than Lara & Tendulkar.Viru & Hayden are prolly the 2 best I’ve seen.Your english,Lara’s got 2 triples against you so I forgive you for idolising him.But he never did anything against India.Wait a few years Viru will blast all the batting records except 100’s maybe.

  13.   Tass says:

    For me, the real reason that Sehwag is and never will be considered great is all about aesthetics. When you watch a great innings by Tendulkar or Lara, you see sense that they could score those runs in any conditions against any attack. They react to the bowling they face. With Sehwag there is always the suggestion of pre meditation (okay, so less politely, he is a very good slogger). A fast eye and quick hands can get you out of a lot of difficult situations. I will reassess my opinion of Sehwag when he is scoring hundreds in his mid thirties when he can’t rely so much on hand eye co-ordination.

  14.   Venkat says:

    1) He averages 10-12 runs more than Sourav and Laxman. But still he is not considered among the Fabulous players. (Why not Fab Five instead of Fab Four?). Is crossing 30 the major criteria for this?…….lol

    2) He(60 matches) has sored as many centuries(15) as Ganguly(109 matches) and 3 more than Laxman(96 matches). His average hundred is 186 which is the highest after Bradman’s . When he gets a 100 he gets them big inspite of scoring centuries more frequently than others.

    3) If any opposition captain is given a choice to claim a free wicket they would definetly prefer Sehwag rather than Sourav, Laxman. (It will be a close call between Sachin, Dravid and Sehwag).

    4) Another important reason that might be working against him is that he is yet to score a century against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh like the others in Fab 4 list…

    5) Whenever he scores a century, the same old comment will be raised……..FLAT SUBCONTINENT PITCH. I want to know in which countries are Adelaide, Melbourne, Nottingham, Gross Islet, Blomfontein…..whether in India or in SL or else in Pakistan?

    6) No one said (and will say in future) Sachin scored 194 on a flat track(Multan) and also Dravid scored 270 on a flat Rawalpindi pitch in the same series when Sehwag scored 309.
    Should he also score a century facing 200 balls like others giving the impression the pitch is difficult to bat on? We saw Sachin struggling to get to 200 quickly even on that flat pitch which resulted in a declaration.

    7) He scored a 300 at Multan(which no Indian has ever done before)….Instead of being proud of it……..comment: the pitch was flat, he was lucky to survive some chances.
    Tell me whether Sehwag is the only batsman to have played in Multan or in general on a flat surface?i guess multan and ch are the only 2 flat wickets in world, that too only for that tests.. I would like to know the players who have scored triple tons in really tough and testing conditions. He scored those runs against Shoaib(fastest bowler) and Saqlain(one of the finest off-spinners ever).
    Coming to chances, agreed that he survived two tough chances when on 70 odd and 90 odd. Two flew between slip and keeper which cant be considered as chances. Is any one sitting in front of TV sets watching all the matches that are played around and tracking the number of chances a batsman gets in the process? Everybody gets chances, if not today may be tomorrow.

    He scored a 300 once again at Chennai…..once again comment: The pitch was very flat.
    People forget how hot and humid and at 45deg at that, it was and the bowling line up of SA is currently the best including Steyn, Ntini and Morkel.Their coach said its coach and kallis said its the best they ve seen… For other indians it seems they re joking..they ve no cri knowledge.. do they..( indians dint even ggive him an guard of honour.. ofcourse, sehwag doesn care!!) The more important thing is that India were chasing 540 which the SA’ns had already posted in the first innings. This huge score will itself lead to a panic most of the times irrespective of the flatness of the track (Ex: Pak lost the Multan match by innings even though the pitch was flat throughout the five days)

    9) People talk about his consistency becoz they never remember his 30’s and 40’s just becoz he will get them in no time and get out even before some switch on their TV sets. This is not the same case with the others because they spend more time at the crease even if finally they end up scoring the same 30’s and 40’s. This makes people remember their scores. The more they see their heros at the crease the more they admire them.
    These reasons are more than enough to consider Viru as one of the best(atleast if not the best) Indian batsmen of all times.
    I am sure he will be the best by the time he retires.
    10)He has only feced 300 balls or more twice.. That’s nothing compared to fab 4… If they dint score 300s its not his mistake., cos ppl say they dint ve time to score.. rahula has faced 300 balls or more in atleast 10 inn… same as sac..!!
    11)His last 11 100s ve all been scores of sbove 150,bradman had 6 consecutive 150s… 12)And his sheer selflessness in refusing single at 199 just bcos he dint wanna let ishant face 3 balls(go round the world and find me one who wld refuse a single at 199),it broke me into tears.. A pure team man…The face of indian cri, The peoples champion.. He has done india proud a lot of times… He doesnt even care if ppl don appreciate him, he s just too happy to jus play for india… Right from 01, i ve been his greatest fan… I remember every article written abt him… am so happy u wrote this… just one instance for media bias, He scored 300 in multan,instead of it hitting the headlines, sachins 194 decl did!!! A once in a lifetime cricketer for whom i ll be the greatest fan till i lay sans breath!!!!!

  15.   lihtness says:

    Out of the nerve wrecking first few moments of every Test match, the sight of first ball hitting the center of the bat of Sehwag has been the most satisfying sight for the ardent of Indian fans. His clear mindedness is so incredible that I am almost never disappointed of how he gets out (which is rare gift for any Indian fan). It is so easy to forget the fitness he brings in. You cant see him tired even when he bats on 295. His shot making is so breath-taking and audacious that you tend to forget how he sets up the match for the team. Now with a great opening partner in Gambhir, I hope India goes on to realize the best opening partnership of modern era of Test Cricket which was closely guarded by Hayden and Langer for long. Hail Sehwag !

  16.   karan84 says:

    Ventak, I am too his greatest fan. I agree with everything you say, and do wish the media and the greater indian public notice this great man. He is our best batsman, and the youngsters coming through should aspire to playing a brand of cricket like his. I can only imagine sehwag bringing indian cricket to a new level if he is given the captaincy. He will rid the team of elements which stunt the growth of the indian side. We will lead from the front on how he wants his teamates to tackle situations. The best proof is Gambhir- a young batsman with to an extent- limited batting potential, who under the guidence of sehwag has been so successful. Sehwag has brought the best out of him. I feel Sehwag can do that with the new up and coming crop of batsman, much better than Dhoni. Dhoni just supports yuvraj with every opportunity he can get, and barely mentions sehwag’s name! Almost all openers that have batted with him recently have done well because he was showed them what is required of them. Hopefully by the time he’s finished.. We can un-earth another sehwag. Thats right, we dont want a sachin or saurav! We want someone that will rise to the challenge and overcome it with flying colours. My respect goes out to all Sehwag fans and I want you guys to know that there are plenty of still around.

    Karan frm Sydney

  17.   bobbydegun says:

    Hey guys, great to hear that there are so many Sehwag supporters out there! I have always been a fan despite all the unjustfied criticism of this awesome player.Its fantastic that he is an opener cos u dont have to wait to see him bat!!The reference in the article to him being the spritual twin of Adam Gilchrist brought is so so apt….but I would say the spiritual triplet of Richards and Gilchrist.

  18.   jaymin says:

    Excellent article Mr. Smyth. If ever there is a ranking of Sehwag’s fans, I believe I will come in the top 10 without any doubt. He is like an idol to me and I just love the sight of seeing viru thrash all comers to different corners of the ground on a ball where other batsman will just pat it back to the bowler or on the pitch. The freedom with which he bats is mind-bobbling. I remember watching the final of 2003 world cup when India was in a hopeless situation chasing more than 350 and at dire straights at the start of the chase. I had my hope alive as long as viru was at the crease and sehwag was the only reason why my favourite team of IPL was the delhi daredevils. Without any doubt, the most team oriented player of our current team. I don’t remember a single incident when he has batted for self over team. I salute this great man and will be his top fan as long as I will watch cricket.

  19.   Sunil.Shinde says:

    I think Shewag is the only player who brings life to Test Cricket.He is the only Player Who can hit 200 Runs in oneday format of the game.

  20.   trextrainer says:

    I agree with you expect on the part of comparing with other batsmen. Tendulkar would dominate bowlers even when it was not his day. You can’t get lost in the praise of someone and forget the gloriousness of the other. All of these batsmen are great and uniquely so. There were many a times, more so than any other batsman, that Tendulkar had to single-handedly carry his team. Does that make him the greatest ever?

  21.   SHiv says:

    Sehwag as good as he is, is a slogger. His speed of movement of the bat saves him most of the time.
    Therefore despite any big scores he makes, he wont get the credit a classier batsman like Sachin or Lara get.

  22.   tuy says:

    shiv ur an idiot

Leave a Reply

Site by Anson Robson Marketing © 2009 The Wisden Cricketer All Rights Reserved