Tuesday, February 06, 2007

What does the captain think of Sehwag?

A TV news headline today screams: "Exclusive: Rahul Dravid had insisted on retaining Sehwag in the XI for the Cape Town Test regardless of backlash" ...

!!!!What is that again? Is that as bad as divulging national secrets to terrorists? Is that bad at all, for a captain to back the dormant abilities of a faltering powerhouse? We live in strange times indeed, where logical and gutsy decisions, when proven erroneous on hindsight, are so painted as moves made with intention of compromising best interests. It is a crime not to capture people's imagination and Dravid the skipper, post SA trip, is paying for that offence and only a World Cup triumph can atone for that.

But I sincerely expect this news to generate a sense of relief amongst a section of people and ex-players that think nothing of Dravid's conviction in his decisions or in his players. In a recent interview Mr Kapil Dev wondered aloud that Rahul Dravid is proving to be another 'weak leader' who appears to succumb to other people's whims. Someone should rush to the great all-rounder and seek his opinion on this 'Exclusive'.

'Distorted reporting' is not the topic of this post. Dravid's opinion of Sehwag is.

It can be a little difficult to comprehend the thinking that went into Dravid's defiant backing of Sehwag ahead of the 3rd Test. By then the latter had let him down over and over again, had refused to learn from mistakes, and was a player slowly but surely losing favour amongst the selectors not only as a captain designate but also as a player assured of selection.

Add to it the fact that the two are as different persons as Gayle and Bradshaw. Like his flamboyant ex-skipper Virender Sehwag is from the cocky, 'living by the sword n' tongue' family of players. He cares a fig about the degerating shape of his physique and game and believes things will fall in place soon by a divine intervention called 'return of form' that comes as a beam from heaven without prayer or rigour. Rahul Dravid is a contrast; I need not say more.

Over the past year and a half Dravid has not shown such enormous trust in abilities of too many failing cricketers, leading to side effects like the Kapil remark. Even Harbhajan Singh has had to sit out repeated after form lapses. But Sehwag is quite obviously held in higher esteem.... Why?

At this point it occurs to me that a newly-obtained copy of Peter Roebuck's "It Takes All Sorts" languishes in my bag. I forget the question on my mind and settle down nicely into a book that makes you feel involved with the lives of numerous cricketers small and big that we often see play cricket and vanish behind pavilion doors and surfed channels after the match.

The book is typically Roebuck; you will like it if you have liked his cricket columns. It is all about a whole lot of people of various age, gender, colour and from different backgrounds; chances are his empathy with the people he writes about in "It Takes All Sorts" will make you grow fond of him even more.

Engrossed, I chug along into the 'Soaring Subcontinentals' section of the paperback. Two consecutive sub-heads there bring me back to the question I was pondering over prior to picking up the book. The subheads are: 'Virender Sehwag in Melbourne' and 'Rahul Dravid in Melbourne'.

The pieces recollect two innings played by the two players in the same Boxing Day Test Match Down Under in 2003. It brings back sad memories - like a combined score of 5 runs in 2 innings by the 4 bowlers and an early dropped catch of double centurion Ponting - of a match we lost after getting to 278/1 on the first day; but it also reminds how special these two players can be in their own ways.

The Sehwag episode of 'It Takes All Sorts' also contained gigabytes of giggles, a natural consequence of the Sehwag Way.

Here are a few samples of Peter's take on Viru's batting:

"In his opinion, flighted deliveries must be put out of their misery with the sort of swing perfected by Babe Ruth."

"No one knows what the blighter might try next - including himself and his opponents. One swipe was as poor a stroke as any seen in Test cricket since...well, since his dismissal in the previous match."

" Repeatedly partners march down the wicket to urge restraint upon a man whose entire career has been an adventure. Sehwag listens quietly to their entreaties, smiles sweetly, blocks a couple of balls and generally tries to strike the next one into Richmond station."

"Of course, strokes of this nature are part of a charm more obvious to spectators than bowlers or the colleague occupying the hot seat."

Well, Rahul Dravid was at the other end for some of the time when this fun-filled mayhem went on. Rahul was also the stand-in skipper when Viru Multanated Pak bowling for his triple century in the next series and decided to continue the good work against that formidable side ever since.

That more or less answers my question. I guess those were nice times for a colleague to fathom the worth of the man they call Sehwag.

Instead of expecting Sehwag to morph into another Mr. Dependable like himself Dravid, rather admirably, values Sehwag for what he is, or can be after he relocates his lost run-scoring bats. At that critical point of the series, the beleagured Indian skipper chose to back the guy he had seen turn series and matches on his own. Viru must now learn to believe in that worth and do adequate justice to his talent over the remaining half of his career

Pratyush Khaitan lists his observations on another enigmatic aspect of Viru's cricket.

Update: Should this make Kapil happier?

1 comment:

Praveen Hegde said...

Hi, excellent article and I wann say that" Don't give ur years to Mr. Kapil Dev's comment. I really don't know whether that person has his own mind coz he always used to say someting about Dravid (Offcource -ve comments), I think he does't like Dravid and his records in Cricket.