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September 27, 2012
Greg Chappell has criticised Virender Sehwag's work ethic, calling him one of the great frustrations of his time as India coach. Sehwag's lackadaisical attitude threatens to squander his great god-given gift, Chappell wrote in the Hindu. Chappell coached India from 2005 to 2007, a controversial stint just after which Sehwag was dropped from the national side.
Sehwag made a stirring comeback from that low, but is currently in an extended lean patch. His last Test century came in November 2010, but outside the subcontinent that date extends back to January 2008. His fitness and fielding have been a worry for the team management, and he has played only 13 ODIs since the World Cup, with only two innings of note - the double-century and a 96 against Sri Lanka.
Sehwag was "rested" for India's second league game in World Twenty20, one of India's more complete T20 performances. That has brought Sehwag's form into focus once again. "To say that Viru was one of the great frustrations of my time with the team is an understatement," Chappell wrote. "Sadly, he continues to disappoint and is in danger of squandering his God-given talent. The person who is least likely to be fazed by all of this is Virender himself.
"What I soon learned about him was that Viru did not want to dedicate himself to taking his talent to its zenith. He was happy to turn up and play and accept what came his way. No amount of cajoling from me could shift him from his insouciant way."
Only lack of runs, according to Chappell, could make Sehwag work hard, but that wouldn't last. "This often happens to those with the greatest gift," Chappell wrote. "Because he had never had to work hard at developing such a skill, Viru did not know how to dedicate himself to disciplined training. It was only during periods of relative poor form that he was prepared to spend time getting things back on track. As soon as he made some runs he slipped back into old habits and appeared content to practise in the same old profligate way; until his form evaporated again."
Chappell also spoke of a lack of responsibility and fitness. "The other area of frustration for me was that he did not keep himself in good shape and would often be troubled by a back ailment that restricted him in the field and made him even less likely to want to put time into expanding his ability. Apart from his batting skills, he is a very talented offspin bowler and he should have been the best slip fielder in the team, but he eschewed the responsibility at every opportunity."
Chappell said not much has changed on that front. "Seven years on, nothing much has changed," he wrote. "He has worked on his fitness and appears to be in better condition, but on the evidence of his training in Australia early this year, he still practises the way he has always done and the results, unsurprisingly, are similar.
Chappell also had a dig at Sehwag's reported captaincy aspirations. "Strangely, for someone who only wants to play the game on his terms, he harbours a desire to captain his country," he wrote. "I have no doubt that he could do it for he understands the game well, but what he fails to grasp is that with the honour comes responsibility. In fact, the responsibility to show personal leadership has to come before one can earn the higher honour. He wants the prize, but has been unwilling to pay the price."
More damningly, Chappell suggested that his selfish attitude towards batting cost India matches. "The surprising thing was that when Viru got runs in 50-over cricket, India often lost," Chappell wrote. "For one thing, he seemed more concerned with his strike rate than the bigger picture. He would play shots from the first ball and not stop until he got out, which was often just when the team needed him to go on to a big score.
"Usually, if he got a start, he would get away to such a flier it would get everyone at the ground excited, including his team-mates who would then think that they should score 300 plus. Once Virender got out, the good start was often squandered by the loss of multiple wickets as others tried to maintain the frenetic run-rate and generally the game would slip away."
However, like the rest of the world, Chappell admired Sehwag's talent, and also said that the opposition will only be relieved if he plays no part in the upcoming matches. "Despite my frustrations with him during my tenure as Indian coach, I could not help but love him," Chappell wrote. "He is, after all, a loveable rogue. And he can bat better than most. In fact, he is the most gifted ball striker that I have seen…
"It is unlikely that Sehwag will ever change. It is probably too late now. But if Dhoni and the selectors have decided that enough is enough and that they have a better chance of winning the World Twenty20 without him, I reckon the Australian bowlers will breathe a little easier on Friday."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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