Aakash Chopra
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Former India opener; author of Beyond the Blues, an account of the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy season

Sehwag's legacy is in his hands

Whether he joins the ranks of the all-time greats depends on how he counters his current slump

Aakash Chopra

February 20, 2012

Comments: 125 | Text size: A | A

Virender Sehwag plays a cut shot, India v West Indies, 3rd Test, Mumbai, 5th day, November 26, 2011
As an opener Sehwag has dominated and intimidated bowling attacks. If he chooses to drop down the order, India will lose that advantage and he will become less effective © AFP

Virender Sehwag's splendid records rebuff the rules, especially the "golden" ones. Perhaps it is this defiance of convention that is the key to Sehwag's appeal.

His massive scores in Test cricket, the highest individual score of 219 in ODIs, a Test average of 51, rank with the numbers of the best in the business. A possible great in the making, one would say - like Don Bradman, Vivian Richards, Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar.

Unfortunately, Sehwag today finds himself going through tough times. It seems like he has several miles to travel still, and how he does will decide how he will be remembered finally, as a great player or a good one.

What makes a player turn from good to great? What is it that separates men of brilliance from the rest? While the list of very good cricketers is long, that of great ones, legends, is tiny by comparison. One needs to tick a lot of boxes before the honour is bestowed.

Agreeing on the parameters for greatness can be thorny, though we can say that career statistics are the first measure. However, we all know that statistics can at times hide a lot more than they reveal.

Hence, the longevity of a player's career can be an useful parameter, to go with the statistics. Andy Ganteaume has a Test average of 112, higher than Bradman, but since he played only one Test match, it means nothing.

The third yardstick could be the impact a player has had in the matches he has performed in, and more importantly the impact he has had on the game as a whole.

And finally, adaptability. All the greats have been known for their ability to adapt to different conditions and situations successfully. It is this ability that essentially defines them.

Some argue Sehwag is a great player already. That his presence in the middle intimidates the opposition, that whenever he fires he wins you the game, and that his feats are beyond dreary statistics - though he has plenty of numbers to boast of as well. A closer look, though, will tell you that Sehwag is a man of dichotomies.

Someone who averages over 50 in Test match cricket in a career of close to 100 Test matches, to go with another 8000 runs in one-day internationals, must be a great or certainly one in the making. Sehwag is one of the few individuals to have two Test triple-centuries, along with four double-centuries, in a total of 22 Test hundreds. But what makes him exceptional is his unheard of strike rate of 82, which means that if he stays long enough in the middle, it almost always ensures that the team's bowlers have enough time to get the opposition out twice.

But numbers can be tyrannical too. Sehwag hasn't scored a Test century outside the subcontinent for the last four years. While he has been among the runs on low and slow pitches on the subcontinent, good bowlers seem to have found holes in his technique and exploited them overseas. Bowlers have now started bowling a lot fuller and closer to his body because they have realised that traditional lines of attack outside the off stump don't work against him. Also, they have started posting fielders in unconventional positions - including a really deep gully and a third-man fielder 25 yards inside the boundary.

Sehwag needs to remind himself of the times he batted himself out of such phases. In 2007, when he was dropped from the side, he worked for hours in the nets while playing for Delhi, meticulously eliminating the iffy shots, especially the aerial ones, which he had a tendency to hit too early in his innings.

There are other issues as well, like an inexplicable average of a mere 35 runs per innings in the limited-overs format. Everyone would agree that that number certainly doesn't justify his talent.

Sehwag has time on his hands, though, to set things right. When India go overseas in a couple of years, he'll have one final chance to redeem himself. That would be the clincher of whether he graduates to greatness or settles where he stands currently.

Sehwag has been around for 13 successful years, having played close to a hundred Test matches and nearly 250 ODIs. He still has a lot of cricket left in him, and he could well finish in the league of players who have played the most international matches in their career. The only challenge he faces now comes from within: will he be able to keep his ageing body fit enough to last the rigours of international and club cricket? For now, though, this box has been ticked.

Impact and influence
It would be fair to say that opening in Test match cricket can be divided into two eras - pre-Sehwag and post-Sehwag. Before he came to the fore, most believed in the time-held notion that only players with certain skill could succeed in Test match cricket. All openers were expected to know where their off stump was and they were supposed to leave a lot more balls than they played. Openers were always the most conservative batsmen in the side, with the job profile clearly stated - see off the new ball, scoring rate be damned.

While he showed encouraging signs of adapting in the first half of his career, he seems to have become a little rigid in the second half. These days he seems to be caught up in the idea of batting the way "Sehwag is expected to bat", rather than thinking about how he should bat, especially when the runs have dried up

Sehwag rewrote the coaching manual, with a style diametrically opposed to the popular belief. He not only successfully challenged the notion of playing it safe when the ball was new, by playing aggressive cricket from the beginning, he also managed to bat in the same vein for long periods, inflicting serious damage on the opposition. That's why most of his big centuries have led to Indian victories.

The flip side to this, though, reiterates the purists' long-held point of view - that his risk-laden style of batting has also often had a negative impact on outcomes. Even when the team has needed him to bat time in order to save matches, he has rarely showed restraint. His modes of dismissal recently have got the naysayers, quite rightly, questioning his attitude: getting out to full tosses twice in Adelaide being a case in point.

Sehwag started as a middle-order batsman who could use the long handle successfully, and also bowl a few overs of offspin. His transformation to a highly successful Test opener speaks volumes about his adaptability.

In the beginning he was, at best, an average batsman against pace, but he went many a mile to improve his response to genuinely quick bowlers.

While he showed encouraging signs of adapting in the first half of his career, he seems to have become a little rigid in the second half. These days he seems to be caught up in the idea of batting the way "Sehwag is expected to bat", rather than thinking about how he should bat, especially when the runs have dried up.

He may have had the measure of bowlers around the world for a long time but if things aren't working for him anymore, shouldn't he be trying to discover other ways of succeeding? His innings in Perth in 2008, and then the century in Adelaide, showed that he could bat differently if he wanted. In those Tests, he curbed his natural instinct and seemed determined to spend time in the middle. He was making a comeback into the side and caution was the need of the hour.

That prudence, though, seems a thing of the past, for now he bats like a millionaire, despite the serious paucity of runs in his bank. Perhaps bowlers around the world have got smarter and have found ways to keep him quiet, or it may be that his eye-hand reflexes may have waned a bit. It could be anything, but finding out what and correcting it is where the challenge lies.

A great player is known for his ability to judge different playing conditions wisely against his level of skill and to adapt accordingly. Take, for instance, Tendulkar. He started as an aggressive middle-order batsman, moved seamlessly to being an aggressive opener in ODIs, and then went on to sacrifice his attacking strokeplay to provide the batting line-up with much-needed solidity. Once he was no longer required to play that role, he came back to his dominating best. Tendulkar also changed his approach a few times to get out of bad patches. It's time Sehwag took his cue from him.

It is not a bad time, in fact, for him to pull out videotapes of his own superlative innings in Melbourne in 2003. The track was damp and had a lot in it for Brett Lee and Co. to exploit. Sehwag, judging the conditions perfectly, took his time, left a lot of deliveries outside the off stump and unleashed his trademark strokes only when he was set.

The suggestion that Sehwag drop down the order may be a way to deal with the issue, though it would perhaps amount to surrendering to the challenge. A change in his batting position would inevitably make him less effective, for it is his presence at the top that doesn't allow the opposition to settle. Batting in the middle order, he may not be all that intimidating; he may continue to score lots of runs but those runs won't have the same impact on the outcome.

How Sehwag responds to his current predicament will determine whether or not he will find his way into the hall of fame. He is standing at a crossroads in his career. If he dares to take the road less travelled, he will be remembered as a genius. Else, he will continue to be a very good player, but only that.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by Angry_Bowler on (February 23, 2012, 20:28 GMT)

Dhoni (an average player) is far better player than him.

Posted by breathecricket on (February 23, 2012, 14:12 GMT)

One thing I would not agree though is that what is wrong if Sehwag moves down the order and is able to dominate the bowling.

Everyone was scared of Gilchrist. He would change a match on its head coming in at no. 7 for Australia. If one plays like the Sehwag way, at any position, the opposition is in for trouble.

Posted by breathecricket on (February 23, 2012, 14:09 GMT)

Great Akash. What an advice you have given not just as a cricketer and an observer of the game. But I guess, lots as a friend and a former opening partner of Sehwag.

Your analysis is just perfect. After being dropped in 2007, Sehwag was made to work hard to retain his place in his team and that reflected in his scores. He APPLIED himself well, preserved the wicket and stayed in the crease for a while and the results were rewarding.

Three good innings and the fourth one was a match saving 151. Sehwag got back the confidence. He has repeatedly failed to do that now. May be, as pointed out, he is not able to do it anymore either because of physical or mental reasons.

And today he cannot be called a great player unconditionally. He has played some great innings and is one of the very good players. But he cannot be yet termed a great player.

Rightly said he has to take a cue from Tendulkar in the way he had adapted. But he has to go through the grind. No second choice. Let us see.

Posted by   on (February 23, 2012, 10:33 GMT)

I love Virender Sehwag. He is a unique, one of a kind player. Viru will come back, and come back with a bang guys. Just watch. VIRU ALL THE WAY!!

Posted by CSKftw on (February 23, 2012, 5:04 GMT)

@Shareef Sehuribas I'm not criticizing him just because he hasn't had a big score in a while or because our team is losing. If he clicks he goes on to score quickly and usually makes a big score but 9 out of 10 times he does not click and just gets out cheaply. Indian grounds are a lot smaller than grounds in western countries so even his mishits go for six in India but outside India he just gets caught. It doesn't matter if he does well in India after this series because India are nearly unbeatable in India anyway, they can beat most teams most of the time without him. Even on pitches where you need to play the new ball defensively he just swings his bat wildly and gets out, which is just unacceptable at the international level. I don't consider players like him and Afridi to be even good players, let alone great.

Posted by Hiba.R on (February 23, 2012, 4:07 GMT)

Akash Chopra's brilliant and candid analysis of Sehwag is impressive and I agree with him 100%. Sehwag needs to adapt to the situation, he often, like in the previous ODI against SL gets in CB series, throws away his wicket due to his wickedness. The bowler had bowled the worst of the delivery but Sehwag thinks he should be rewarded by giving away his wicket. He surely have started to bat like MLLIONAIRE as Akash says, no matter what kind of talent you have, if it fails to deliver results, it is of no use, if Sehwag has to get himself out just on the 2nd ball he faces, we rather should let Umesh Yadav open the innings.

Posted by   on (February 22, 2012, 13:29 GMT)

Cool guys you all started criticising after two series. For me it looks pretty premature. Undoubtably he is in his bad patch and I am sure he will be back as earliest. People easily forgetting one thing he is a big impact player. As Akash mentioned always we can devide the indian cricket period pre Sehwag and post Sehwag. We know how many technically solid players failed in the opening slot. He is not a specialist opener and team management made him to fill the slot. He filled the slot efficiently. Sure he will come back strongly and still I believe that he needs to offer lot to the Indian cricket. My humble request to viru is play senisble and prove all wrong.

Posted by   on (February 22, 2012, 1:31 GMT)

In past Sehwag used to score big scores 2 out of ten times. Now the whole world knows how to trap him. He goes in a trap very easily and puts rest of the team under pressure from the beginning. Yesterday's match proved that he is not a good captain as well. I don't know why didn't he give bowling to Raina before 49th over. Raina had so well in the previous match, is it a result of some political polarization in the team? Whatever it is, the whole nation is ashamed of the performance of the team. Another question coming to my mind is the role of the coach. The team's performance came down after he became the coach of the Indian team. (:

Posted by hhillbumper on (February 21, 2012, 20:28 GMT)

His shot today in the one day match says it all.Slapped it to third man and looks as though it is someone elses fault.He is not even a decent player in bouncy conditions

Posted by kazim11 on (February 21, 2012, 19:46 GMT)

For those who like to compare sehwag to viv richards and other great player.... looking at the standards of bowling back then and bowling standards today. Dont be a fool.

Posted by kazim11 on (February 21, 2012, 19:44 GMT)

LOL! Sehwag all time great?? HAHAHAHA thats the funniest thing i ever heard. A batsman who very rarely is able to score against good bowler is being considered to be in all time great? They guy has no footwork! Plz! Cricket is not about swinging the bat and in case it doesn't hit right, hope for the ball to land safe or the fielder to drop the catch.

Posted by zico123 on (February 21, 2012, 18:18 GMT)

Sehwag is highly ove-rated at times, Sehwag is at best a good Test cricketer and an average ODI player, with his gifted talent he should have 25 ODI hundreds at an average of 40, not 15 hundreds only at average of 35. also in Test cricket he will be called great only if he scores 10,000 runs and 30 Test hundreds to go with his 50 plus average. Sehwag should bat in ODIs same way he bats in Test cricket, also often he gets away playing an irresponsible, reckless shot saying that's how sehwag plays!!

Posted by the_blue_android on (February 21, 2012, 16:37 GMT)

Sehwag is nothing but a slap on the face of real test cricket fans.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2012, 15:49 GMT)

The tours he has had to , England and South Africa and New Zealand have been poor he averages 27, 25 and 20 respecitvely there comapared to 58 in india. If the ball moves at pace he is dead. The first question one must ask when assesing greatness is would he be able to adapt in all eras. My feeling is in the 70/80s against those fast bowlers he would not only be able not to survive my guess is if he tried one of those slashes or tried to hit the bowler back over his head some of those guys would put him in a body bag.

Posted by maddinson on (February 21, 2012, 15:49 GMT)

Sehwag is record outside asia tell you a story about his adaptability and look at his record even in Asia in 3rd and 4th inning even tell you that he is absolute flat track bully who piles run on dead wickets with help of uncountable chances he get in every inning.

Posted by CSKftw on (February 21, 2012, 13:31 GMT)

Sehwag is way overrated. All he ever does is try to smash every ball as hard as he can, sometimes he is successful and ends up making a huge score but 9 out of 10 times he fails horribly and makes the same lame excuse "That's just how I play." Complete lack of a cricketing brain and application, if you're going to play at the international level you have to be able to adapt and play according to the situation. Players like Jayasuriya, Gilchrist and Hayden were also attacking openers but they were far more consistent and multi-dimensional players than Sehwag will ever be, he shouldn't even be playing international Cricket imo.

Posted by harshthakor on (February 21, 2012, 12:10 GMT)

He has already won a permanent place amongst the greatest opening batsman of all time and apart from Barry Richards no opening batsman has been as destructive.No batsman played more like Viv Richards in the modern era as Sehwag who is the greatest match-winner ever amongst Indian batsman.No Indian batsman ever had Sehwag's prowess to register mammoth scores.

Sadly his technical deficiencies,temperament etc have let him down.He need to think out his game and work out a strategy on the bouncier seamer-friendly tracks.

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (February 21, 2012, 12:01 GMT)

and sehwag is going to get only worse as his reflexes slow down...he dont have the technique or adaptability to be called a great...only modern cricketrs who can be called batting greats are lara, sachin and ponting... just below them comes kallis, dravid inzamam

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (February 21, 2012, 11:55 GMT)

come on.. ! sehwag a great ? !! he is very gud on flat pitches and low bounce pitches and thats it... just look at his average in sa, england, nz .. his average in australia is reasonably good bcoz australien pitches has gone flat in last 10 years , even the WACA...only recently are they coming back to their true nature and as we can see sehwag failed again..

Posted by   on (February 21, 2012, 9:19 GMT)

Two Big opening men of India should take rest by his choice or BCCI.. from both(test & OdI) the panel ..

Posted by SeamingWicket on (February 21, 2012, 8:46 GMT)

Sehwag is a Jayasuriya/Gilchrist type batsman. These batsmen are usually put in their own category. Not the same as the more 'classical' Lara/Tendulkar/Gavaskar/Bradman. But then again Viv Richards, i am not really sure which category he belongs in

Posted by Scheduler on (February 21, 2012, 7:53 GMT)

Four years back he was a consistent slogger so he did make few records now it seems bad omen has set in. He is more irresponsible and inconsistent in his slogging. Am surprised selectors still have made him a vice captain.The word greatness cannot be attached to a player like him , once in 10 innings wonder. Maybe he should only be played every 10th match so we could win. I dont know how people define someone as a match winner one who is consistent or one who is not. because either ways sehwag is failing. He should get back to playing ranji cricket and improve if he still dreams to be called GREAT.

Posted by insightfulcricketer on (February 21, 2012, 3:11 GMT)

Fan's memory can be fickle.They also say form is temporary and class is permanent. Shewag in his prime had put genuine fear in the eyes and minds of his adversaries. In tough pitches against class bowling attacks he had played knocks that defy even Sachin's sample a few- 201no against Lankans in Lanka with Murali and Mendis at their prime out of a score of 300 odd leads to India win, 190no against Lankans on a turning/seaming wicket in Mumbai against Murali and Vaas in attack, 300 odd away in Pakistan against an attack with Shoaib and Saqlain in prime,300 in 290 balls against attack comprising Steyn and Morkel,194 on a damp pitch against Lee ,Gilly in Melbourne, 120 odd against Mcgrath,Warne,Gillespie co on a dicey wicket in Chennai in '04 and countless more.Please recount again one similar knock by Hayden,Langer co and other openers doing rounds which compares? Shewag is at the end of his career but in my opinion he has already earned pass for greatness.

Posted by AnoMaLy on (February 21, 2012, 2:09 GMT)

about time he got dropped..very irresponsible batsman and brings no maturity whatsoever..he needs a wake up call thats for sure

Posted by   on (February 21, 2012, 2:06 GMT)

Yes, Sehwag has under-performed in overseas tests in the last few years, but to call him a flat track bully is harsh. This is the guy who made a hundred on debut in South Africa, AND a hundred on his opening debut in England in 2002. He is not a natural opener, but opened the innings for the team's cause. Yes, he is getting out to daft shots nowadays, but he used to get out like that before too. It's just that the big innings have dried up, making those daft shots seem all the more daft. He's not great yet, but he's god damn close. He's got 2 triple hundreds, which neither Gavaskar, Sachin, nor Dravid have. I'm not saying he's a better player than them, but I'm just putting things in perspective. Give him a couple of years more, if he doesn't improve AT ALL, then yes, it's time for him to go.

Posted by bazhar12 on (February 21, 2012, 1:59 GMT)

Viru may not have the pandits 'great' parameters. Can someone research the performance of the Indian team when Viru has scored less than 20 runs in an innings in all forms of the game. Through inquiry is needed to ascertain the reasons for the poor showing by the seniors. I am sure Dhoni's attitude towards the seniors is hurting Team India. Viru is the true entertainer.

Posted by Vishal_07 on (February 21, 2012, 1:49 GMT)

The article is good, well thought out and researched but title is poor. Don't most people have legacy in their own hands be it Sehwag, Gambhir or Dhoni. In any case, I lost respect for Sehwag as a fan in the Test when India was down >400 runs, Sehwag and gifts his wicket away by slashing the ball to Warner at point. 'Sehwag being Sehwag' is fun to see when team India has score on par with the opposition. This dude has to bat more responsibly and put a price on his wicket!

Posted by Nampally on (February 21, 2012, 1:41 GMT)

The first & foremost quality in a "great" batsmen is his ability to conquer all types of bowling on all types of pitches & playing conditions. While Sehwag has shown that ability on the sub-continent pitches, he is all at sea on overseas pitches. His performance in England was well below average 7 the same is true in Australia.He has been at sea against an average Australian Seamers. Not only that he was out to a full toss thrice in about 10 innings!.Unless he comes out with a great score in the current Aussies tour, I rate him as great entertaining batsman on the Flat Indian pitches.If you want examples of great batsmen I would list players like Gary Sobers, Tendulkar,Gavaskar,Dravid, Viv Richards, Lara, Barrington, Graveney, Cooke,Ponting, Bradman, etc. Actually Bradman never played in India but was greatest in rest of the world. Sehwag's improvised style & footwork while great in Indian sub continent, do not work abroad.Hence his claim to greatness are not proven, in my opinion.l

Posted by CricketChat on (February 21, 2012, 1:36 GMT)

Shewag is already one of the best Ind batsmen based on his achievements. 2 triples and scores of other big hundreds are a true testimony to that. Due to lack of fitness, and aging (similar to another all time great, Viv Richards), bowlers have found out chinks in Shewag's technique, hence his prolonged lean patch. I think he should retire after Aus tour. I don't think he will ever recapture his old glory, even in sub-continent. Having said that, I hope he can prove me wrong.

Posted by moBlue on (February 21, 2012, 1:18 GMT)

"flat-track bully"? check and get your facts right, people! sehwag scored a century on debut in his very first test inning in 2002 on a lightning-quick jo'berg pitch against a SA who were rampaging with IND at 68 for 4 in the first session of the test series when sehwag entered! he also scored 194 before tea on day one in melbourne, a perpetual grave-yard for IND, and not because it is a "flat track"! you are all entiltled to your own opinions but not to your own facts!

Posted by moBlue on (February 21, 2012, 1:14 GMT)

the jury should hold back on their verdict on sehwag yet. the man is a genius! *that* is established fact. like aakash said, test cricket is indeed divided into pre-sehwag and post-sehwag eras, especially because sehwag did his own thing - like only a genius can! - and took high risks at the top of the order and succeeded against high odds! that too in the merciless world run by the BCCI where he might easily have been confined to the dustbin of oblivion in a heartbeat, had he failed! ...and you know that to be true! ...and he knew it! i am sure nobody in the team - including ganguly, perhaps - seriously encouraged him to open in the unique style that he chose to gamble with... yet now "success has a thousand fathers"! ...and people seem to forget there would never have been a david warner without sehwag. so... i think that genius that he is, he is going to "edit" his game and come back a mindblowing batter once again... though it is likely he will do so in the middle order of tests.

Posted by ToTellUTheTruth on (February 21, 2012, 0:52 GMT)

@godimbored...I second that and I am a (or used to be) die hard Indian cricket fan.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2012, 0:48 GMT)

Sehwag is a very good player. He is a unique player. But he isn't and never will be one of the greats. He is not a modern great either. He is exciting but there are a host of modern openers well ahead of him in the pecking list. Hayden, Langer, G Smith, Cook, G Kirsten, M Taylor, M Slater are all are better than Sehwag has ever been and none of them are true 'greats' of the game.

Posted by Alexk400 on (February 20, 2012, 23:54 GMT)

He was great until Aussie series...he went down few notches because his inability to change his style when team needs his contribution.

Posted by Rakim on (February 20, 2012, 23:31 GMT)

Whatever Akash... Sehwag's legacy? are you kidding me? his legacy is king pair... he ain't a legend like greats of the game.

Posted by bobmartin on (February 20, 2012, 22:18 GMT)

He has... or at least had... superb hand/eye co-ordination but very little of what one would describe as technique... He knows just one way to play, and when it works it's great to watch, but too often lately, it hasn't worked. He appears to have no fall-back for when things are going against him... Great players can score ugly runs when the chips are down, Sehwag seems incapable of this..and that's why he will never be a truly great player...

Posted by hhillbumper on (February 20, 2012, 21:57 GMT)

A good hitter of poor bowling in the subcontinent.But a great player? This Indian obsessions with your players being all time greats is laughable. I suppose Ishant Sharma is the greatest fast bowler of modern times. He is a crap batsman when bowlers get any assistance. Lets face it a bit of bounce and most Indian batsmen look like rank amateurs.Imagine what would have happened if this bunch of prima donnas had come up against the Windies in their prime.Wouldn't have got past 100.

Posted by Buggsy on (February 20, 2012, 21:53 GMT)

"hasn't scored a Test century outside the subcontinent for the last four years". Says it all really. Throwing the bat at everything works in India but everywhere else you need this thing called technique. You only had to see him in the recent Australia series to realise how overrated he is.

Posted by itsthewayuplay on (February 20, 2012, 21:45 GMT)

Unfortunately in this media driven age of hyperbole, 'great' is a word that is greatly overused. Sehwag is not and will never be a great player. What he is, sometimes, is entertaining on flat wickets who talks big but thinks little. Great players are those who would have competed in any conditions in any age such as Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman. On fast bouncy wickets Sehwag is a fish out of water. Those of you who have believe that Sehwag is already a great player are contributing the declining standards in Indian cricket. Stick to the flat tracks of India, Sehwag but leave overseas crickt to the proper batsmen.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 21:38 GMT)

odi strikerate of sehwag is more than 100 scoring 8000 runs thats what people shud no and talking abt average , he is an agressive opener and even jaysuria gayle gilly etc hav pathetic averages,so 35 average is not all that bad.The role of an agressive opener is to give a quickfire start which involves more risk.And u cant name 1 player in history of odi criket having strikerate of 100 and scoring 8000 runs...Viru is d best

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 21:20 GMT)

Failure of aussie and england series was mainly due to team management!!!!!! how could he become a bad player after scoring well at the 1st innings of melbourne test??? Mahindra singh dhoni's captaincy had flawed!!!!A man coming from delhi and playing this level at the international shud be considered as a greatest achievement, delhi track is a dead track, it wil not bounce,it wil not spin, it will not be easy to score runs!!!!excluding last 2 series of his career, he has played really well,,,, if he have to come among the greats?? 1st he has to beat Mathew Hayden,who has an impresssive record everywhere in this worldhe was one step ahead than ponting i bet!!!!!

Posted by nyc_missile on (February 20, 2012, 20:49 GMT)

Nice analysis! Except that Sehwag is already an all-time great with his astounding SR to with 50+avg.Cant fathom why people have a problem with flat-track bullying.If out-scoring all batsmen on both sides in 2008 Galle on a vicious spinning track with Mendis at his peak,with precise foot-work and shot-execution,then yes he is a flat-track bully.Who cares,quality matters on any pitch.I agree that his form overseas has been disastrous mainly due to lack of application&hunger,but doesnt take away anything from his 'greatness' he's achieved.At the age he started @24,and the pace at which he has demolished attacks in the test format,his is a phenomenal success story...Already.He surely needs to prove a point in SA&Eng and in doing so,it will only be an add-on to his legacy.For instance,the paradigm shift he brought in the game has much heavier impact than a steady Sachin has.

Posted by Leggie on (February 20, 2012, 20:37 GMT)

GREAT ARTICLE. What a beautiful way of summing up Sehwag's performance. We need the likes of Akash Chopra in cricket administration and even maybe as a coach - such honest assessment and so wonderfully articulated.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 20:13 GMT)

@bouncer3459 - the most over-rated cricketer ever? That's a dead heat between (Sir) Ian Botham and David Gower, but there's no need to fear a stoning for saying so. At worst, Sir Ian will break your jaw and Mr Gower, OBE, will give you a frosty smile.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 20:11 GMT)

so why dosen't sehwag bat down the order again,sachin dropped down the order from being an opener,did sachin then surrender to the challenge?

Posted by Nutcutlet on (February 20, 2012, 19:45 GMT)

When he was younger (say ten + years ago), Sehwag was a formidable force. He had the keenness of eye and supreme hand-eye coordination to complement it. His feet were no more than a launch-pad. There was no need for them to go anywhere because the ball was already crossing the rope, or going over it. So much for the younger Sehwag - entertainer extrordinaire. Now, in his mature years, we have a parody of the former version. The feet are heavy anchors, launch-pads no longer, & we notice them more because they show up a deficiency in technique as the eyes and the coordination have deserted him. And the ball is soon arial, but for thirty yards, not 80. A great of the game? Not now, for sure. It's interesting to note the very greatest batsmen have a core of common qualities: adaptability to different conditions & countries; techniques that mature to accommodate advancing years; & yes, outstanding fielders too. From the top: Bradman, Hobbs, Viv, Trumper, G Headley. Argue over the rest...

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 19:43 GMT)

by the end of this article, you go back to saying that sehwag should think like a conventional opener to get out of his current batting slump. sehwag makes the hall of fame only for the fact of transforming an openers role in test cricket. similar to jayasuriya and kaluwitharana transforming an openers role in the '96 world cup. end of the day, its winning that matters, and the team comes first. what the aussie selection panel decided for ponting, and how well he has taken it is a cue for us. team first, everything else second.

Posted by hhillbumper on (February 20, 2012, 19:08 GMT)

He sees the ball he hits the ball he gets caught again. He is never ever going to be a great player.He can slap poor attacks on flat pitches but to compare him to Viv who was the best modern batsman is a complete joke.But of course being Indian means he must be an all time great.this is the farce of the individual being more important than the team and just shows why India will continue to struggle away from their home conditions

Posted by joma13 on (February 20, 2012, 19:04 GMT)

Sehwag is certainly not a great batsman...most overrated would be a more suitable moniker for him, I feel.

Posted by Mr_Anonymous on (February 20, 2012, 18:57 GMT)

Let me elaborate the point a bit more.

Both you and Sehwag were KEY to the excellent showing we had in Australia in the 2003 series. You both played your opener jobs very well and it was only because of your effort(s) and partnership(s) at the top that the middle order batsmen could play more freely.

However, once that Australia series finished, you had a different role in the side. One who can build on the start and hit a 50 or a 100 and you were found wanting in that role. In my mind, you failed to take on that challenge and Sehwag did and cemented his place as the opener.

Also, when you left Delhi for Rajasthan (Ranji), I am sure there were lots of people who would have doubted you in the same way you are doubting Sehwag about your choice but you proved them wrong by being part of the winning Ranji Trophy team twice. The challenge kept you excited and allowed you to learn/grow in different ways.

So, my input is let Sehwag make the call and help him in this transition.

Posted by Mr_Anonymous on (February 20, 2012, 18:49 GMT)


First of all, I want to thank you for writing excellent blogs/articles on Cricinfo. They are very perceptive, positive and you analyze things very well. I enjoy reading your articles regardless of whether I agree with them or not (and I mostly do).

In general, the above is a very well written article. I will disagree with you strongly on the following sentence though: "The suggestion that Sehwag drop down the order may be a way to deal with the issue, though it would perhaps amount to surrendering to the challenge."

Life is a series of different challenges and what keeps it interesting is the desire to accept new challenges that excite you and not get stuck into a role because you are perceived to do well there by others. Sehwag needs to figure out what challenges excite him the most and no one else should judge him on that. Sehwag I am sure knows he is taking a risk and if he fails in the middle order then he could be out of the side but that's his challenge/risk to take.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 17:57 GMT)

Sehwag is a flat wicket player. He averages 70 in subcontinent and 30 outside since past few years. He no doubt is a fantastic player of spin but is too flashy on wickets which help fast bowling. Some people may remind of certain innings but average of 30 doesn't lie....He will return from Australia and will bat again on subcontinent tracks for Next 2 years where he will massacre bowling attacks because fast bowlers are virtually rendered impotent in Subcontinent. He will again start averaging 70 odd and increase his career average to 55. Then he has to travel to South Africa where he will have a series average of 20. But no need to worry. Average wont drop to 50. Then again he will play in subcontinent and increase his average...All in all, in the end he will retire with an average of over 50(inflated by flat subcontinent wickets) and our statistics crazy media will give him honor of being great. A great who could hardly score anything of value in test matches outside subcontinent.

Posted by bouncer3459 on (February 20, 2012, 17:28 GMT)

The second most over-rated cricketer ever. You know who is the most over-rated, I wouldn't say much otherwise the God followers will stone me to oblivion.

Posted by Cricket_Geek on (February 20, 2012, 17:19 GMT)

Adaptability is an issue for all teams round the world. Every team is strong on certain pitches & are not in others. The only thing Indians lack is the ability to fight it out when the going gets tough. Mistakes get repeated over & over even by experienced players. When somebody is over the hill there is no point persisting with him in the hope he will come good someday. The Indian crowds & media are used to seeing flashy cricket on dead pitches. I would say to have got a Gavaskar, Vishwanath, Dravid, Tendulkar or Ganguly, India have just been plain lucky. The first class cricket prepares players for bigger things but our first class cricket is a no-hopper when it comes to preparing players for different conditions. Losing is fine but losing they way India has over the last 18 months or so is disgraceful. The same thing is happening to WI & Sri Lankan cricket. First class cricket is crucial to player development. From the way it is, Indians will be losing consistently abroad for now.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 17:14 GMT)

We Indians are obsessed with technique & all other such things! What we are going get from all this things? main thing is scoring high and fast, and Sehwag has done just that in his 96 test long career.if you compare him with Sachin then think about this. Sachin take almost 2000 deliveries to score 1000 runs in tests, while Sehwag score this with 1250 balls. This mean he provide at least 125 more overs to Indian bowlers to get other teams out twice. Had Sehwag been a Australian or South African batsman he would have received this tag long ago. I will not hesitate to say we are idiots we just don't know how to appreciate our greats. I can say with authority that Anil Kumble & Virender Sehwag are biggest ever winner in test Cricket. I have seldom see Sachin,Dravid,Laxman or Sourav to play a match winning inning overseas! We Indians still needs to learn to appreciate our greats and don't play down in this manner. If Brad Hogg can play at the age of forty why can't Anil Kumble?

Posted by sk12 on (February 20, 2012, 17:04 GMT)

Sehwag is an extraordinary player on flat tracks (more dangerous than Lara, Ponting and equal to Viv), ordinary player otherwise (like Hafeez, Tharanga). Overall he would be considered "good" player. Dont think any more analysis is required.

Posted by Advanced_Donkeys on (February 20, 2012, 16:50 GMT)

On his day Sehwag will smash a quickfire century of 50 balls.On his bad day,he will be dismissed by an under 15 afgan bowler.

Posted by Apneram on (February 20, 2012, 16:44 GMT)

I am sure you have composed this article because that's what you are paid for - to write such stuff. Sehwag's contribution to Indian cricket can be summarized briefly: he plays just as he says - "I treat every ball on its own merit". This means he doesn't care what situation the team is in, he will hit/mishit the ball as he sees fit. There have been times, I have hoped, he would take the overall good of the team into consideration and play with some responsibility/sensibility when the situation is imploring caution. Yet, he takes the free hand given to him by Dhoni quite literally and is back in the tent after 20-30 odd runs. These characteristics can never be attributed to a great player. A great player plays extremely well, which Sehwag shows he is capable of; however, there has never been a dearth of good players. A distinguishing trait in a great player has been to lift the team from the depths and place it on a mantle. Sehwag can never be capable of that.

Posted by Uttsbaby on (February 20, 2012, 16:35 GMT)

@big_al any opener with an average over 50 should be considered great, dont see too many rocking around out there.

@GanJack your logic means that players like andy flower were awful(seeing as he won his team pretty much no games). If tendulkar scores a century and the rest of the team cannot match his score together and india lose i fail to see how it is his fault(like when he scored 175 against AUS)... Seems like the tendulkar-bashing has become the new hype, if India had listened to you all in 2006 they would've dropped him and we wouldn't have seen him score the 1st double century in ODI's and much much more

Posted by Alexk400 on (February 20, 2012, 15:53 GMT)

When he is in full flow , there is absolutely nothing better. But i think he started to think too much about his status. He needs some more stats and he won't get it if he play like he don't care. He should play ball on ground more. Especially overseas. I am not sure why he keeps playing in air and put himself in risk. may be he never wanted DHoni to win. That may be wrong because he played same way he was captain in last test. his brain is abnormal. good luck to him though we need him to get back to his full flow

Posted by Sriram_Krishnamurthy on (February 20, 2012, 15:33 GMT)

I don't think Viru was every a great player nor will he ever be... He manages an avg of 35 outside the sub-continent and 61 in the sub-continent. Can definitely qualify as a flat track bully. Saw a few comments comparing him with Sachin - Sacrilege. Sachin still has the guts to stand up to Dale Steyn's red hot pace facing 48 out of 66 balls on his way to 146. Viru can never dream about that... Viru is at his best against mediocre bowlers on good batting conditions. Writing his name amongst the likes of Don, Viv and Sachin is definitely not on.

Posted by godimbored on (February 20, 2012, 15:31 GMT)

You are joking, right? Sehwag is a wonderful entertainer and exciting to watch when he's on song. But the man is nothing more than a flat-track bully; to seriously compare him with Don Bradman and Viv Richards is idiotic, and I fail to see how anyone can take such a suggestion seriously. His record away from the sub-continent is miserable - just take the last two series against Australia and England as proof. His technique against the moving ball is non-existent and he simply doesn't have a Plan B. This article is utter tripe aimed squarely at an Indian audience who will lap it up uncritically.

Posted by SasiGladi on (February 20, 2012, 15:27 GMT)

I hope he fires in the crucial juncture in this series, like Jayasuria's concept of flying start in ODI it is shewag who rewrote the test opening with dominating strike rate which is one the factor India reached top in test ranking...it is good he identified warner's ability as test batsmen who proved his attitude similar to shewag..this might spread to all the cricketing nations.....

Posted by yusuf97 on (February 20, 2012, 15:27 GMT)

sehwag is one of the greatest player who have made cricket lively in any format.weather it is test odi or t20. he is one of those player who is like a giant to even the greatest bowlers. bowlers are really really afraid...hope he shows again in cb series

Posted by inswing on (February 20, 2012, 15:14 GMT)

Because Sehwag's batting relies so much on reflexes and timing, perhaps he is more vulnerable to aging. Only a slight slowing of reflexes in the early 30s could wreak havoc with Sehwag, while a Tendulkar or Dravid and adjust their batting style. On top of that, sides have figured Sehwag out to some extent by adjusting bowling lines and field placements, as pointed out by Chopra. The middle order is now the best place for Sehwag, where he can deal with the old ball and thump some spinners.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 15:12 GMT)

When has Sehwag faced bowlers who bowl a full length and also swing it? His success in previous tours to Australia came against bowlers that bowled back of length. McDermott and the English coach have found out not just Sehwag, but also Laxman; basically players with not much footwork against pacemen who bowl full and close to the off stump.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 15:09 GMT)

der s no doubt tat viru s a gud player but wat makes him uncomfortable against quality pace bowling s his lack of feet movement sumtyms he has been lethargic too! who knows if he went on 2 score a big 100 in MCG instead of 67(got out to PATTINSON) d series wud hav been different for him as well as for IND!.... well @ d time every1 says THAT's THE WAY VIRU PLAYS!... as millions of ind fans are hoping dat ind improve their overseas performance i m also hoping for d best!.... but before that U AUSSIE fanz.. even though sum says he s a flat track bully he ll smash ur bowlers like no other player wen u cum on 2 defend d trophy! PAYBACK TIME starts from now on!

Posted by MaruthuDelft on (February 20, 2012, 14:52 GMT)

The only Indian player who comes close to being great is Sachin Tendulkar. However even Sachin is not quite there. You know what? It finally comes down to physical attributes. The truth is still we are nowhere near Europeans and Africans. Dennis Lillee, Viv Richards and Shane Warne are the undisputable greats in the last 4 decades. They are physically strong. Even Lara is very strong physically strong but he has failed tick a few boxes. McGrath is not charismatic. Ponting somehow not. Imran not spontaneous. Wasim failed to take Pakistan to victories in Oz, SA or Windies. Botham flopped later on. Hadlee somehow not. Sachin in his haydays could compile the first 50-60 like Viv but then you could see him wanting for stregnth which put you off; noone wants to see a tired limping sportsman in the middle. Tennis stars even if they get tired they still whack it but Tendulkar nudges. Sehwag is not even a good batsman leave alone being a great one.

Posted by dogcatcher on (February 20, 2012, 14:47 GMT)

I am sure someone with better statistical knowledge than me will prove me wrong, but Sehwag for me optimises the term flat track bully. I cannot recall him grinding out a 100 or 200. Yes scoring quickly is a great asset and does put your team in a great position to win a game, but only when it comes off. The reason he is in a trough is because other teams have worked out he flays at everything and thus made the field and bowling adjustments. He is great to watch when on fire but give me a Dravid or Kallis any other day. Rather a grafter than someone who is all or nothing. He makes a 100 almost 16% of the time he scores but with his talent I'd prefer to see him not just swing but buckling down

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 14:43 GMT)

Sehwag has to prove only one thing that is he can bat outstandingly on foreign pitches like Australia, South Africa and England. That is the only place where he haven't created any records in my view. One more point which Sehwag must remember is that he should respect the bowler if the pitch is helping them. If ball is swinging then he cannot just throw is bat like a tail ender batsmen. On swinging pitches bowlers will be putting the balls in right area's and batsmen must give respect to those balls and play patience's game. This is the only area in which Sehwag has to work, apart from this he has no other weakness. Short pitch stuff from bowlers is uncomfortable to many Indian batsmen, so, it is not big issue in the Sehwag's game.. India is fortunate that after Sachin found Sehwag as explosive batsmen.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 14:32 GMT)

Nice read. I don't think Sehwag can ever be considered a great. He has failed too many times overseas and doing so on his last couple of overseas tours would, besides being unlikely, be too little too late. The same in many ways applies to VVS who is fine only with bouncy pitches, but fails miserably in swinging/seaming conditions. In the "next" generation, Gambhir, Raina and Dhoni are already doomed to be remembered as average bats.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 14:03 GMT)

He is hardly a great. Very good but not a great.Like Hayden he is a flat track bully Failed in England.Failed in S.A.Wonderful entertainer but will never be ranked alongside the Gavaskers, Huttons and B Richards.

Posted by Jack_India on (February 20, 2012, 14:00 GMT)

Sehwag plays T20, ODI and tests in T20 style. This is great to watch if he is in the middle for long. However, it is very risky most of time, especially in English conditions as well as Down Under. He can do that on dead Indian pitches but not otherwise.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 13:59 GMT)

Sewag had 3 very bad series in his career!! 2006 south africa england 2011 and ausstralia 2011!!!!! take out those series, he has scored every where in this world,and still you guys questins about sewag's batting!!!! read the statistics!!!!! hundred at SA,195 MCG, odi hundreds against shane bond new land team,150 at adelaid,200+ at galle??? and many,have these hundred are only because of fluke?????!!!!!!!!!!!!! Even ponting had poor record in India 2 times almost third if u take out banglore 100?? you guys dont consider the spinning wicktes for the test greatness???sewag has done enough to be a Good batsmen in test cricket!!!! And I just want to tell tat i havent read much about mathew hayden along with the greats!!!!!! he will come in list of the all time best opener in the world!!!! i would like to see more mathew hayden articles!!!!!

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 13:33 GMT)

Agreed, there is a certain recklessness and impatience in his approach now that, contrary to what his fans claim, is not part of his natural game at all. He used to be more calculated in his assault and chose his moments carefully but these days, he is intent on getting off to a flyer at any cost. His average will take a battering if he does not re-assess his approach in the last few months.

Posted by KarachiKid on (February 20, 2012, 13:25 GMT)

No doubt the most destructive batsmen of current era. However, his record outside Sub-Continent speaks for itself, with not so good performances in England, SA and NZ. Better in Australia but seems like he's been found out by current lot of aussy quickies. I think given his technique, a reliance on hand eye coordination, his numbers are not going to improve anymore. In seaming conditions he cannot rival Dravid, Ponting or Kallis. I DONT think once he retires he will be in same league as Tendulkar, Lara, Ponting, Dravid, Hayden, Sangakara....let alone Bradman.

Posted by stormy16 on (February 20, 2012, 13:10 GMT)

As the writer points out, unless Sewag corrects his away records, he will only ever be a great player at home. I dont think you can expect a guy like Sewag to get too analytical or conservative - it just wouldn't be Sewag! I also wish to point out that its not Sewag who changed things around at the top of the order, but Sanath Jayasuriya. Jayasuriya wasnt the technitian but he certainly changed the traditional role of the test opener and in Warner we have another on the same path. No matter where Sewag (or Warner or Jasuriya) played, the opposition team discussion would have a fairly high element of effort at getting his wicket - that would amount to greatness on the imapct side. Consitency and adaptability is a different debate though.

Posted by Bollo on (February 20, 2012, 13:01 GMT)

@Jay Hanmantgad. Ponting`s record in Asia is actually not too bad; 5 centuries/10 fifties in 48 innings at about 42, quite apart from his decent record in SAf (ave 47), Eng (ave 42), NZ (ave 60) and WI (ave 78). Sehwag`s record outside Asia is 5 centuries/8 fifties in 66 innings at about 36.

A couple of those have been great knocks, but all in all, he`s built his reputation on a brilliant record on subcontinental pitches. Away from those he has often struggled badly, particularly against decent attacks.

Posted by cricfanraj on (February 20, 2012, 12:52 GMT)

People talking subcontinent conditions as batting friendly ,especially in tests, is a Joke. If that is the case then Why Pointing and Co so called greats have a poor run here. Does that mean they are not even good enought to bat on batsmen friendly tracks. It is Spinner friendly vs Pace Friendly wickets and the batsmen playing well in both conditions need to be qualied for Very good category. Great should be sparingly used. In Current generation Only Sachin and Lara will fall into that category. If you want to add one more Pointing by some distance thats it. Dravid , Kallis etc are very good players and may be great upto some extent for this generation only. But All time greats no way....

Posted by BellCurve on (February 20, 2012, 12:30 GMT)

Sehwag is not a match winner in Test cricket. Only 3 of his 10 highest Test scores ended in victory for India. He has only won 8 MotM awards and only 5 of those came in matches India won. He is a flat track opportunist with a shameful record against Test standard bowling in normal conditions. To call Sehwag "great" is a grave insult to truly great and very good openers such as Jack Hobbs, Bill Ponsford, Herbert Sutcliffe, Len Hutton, Bruce Mitchell, Geoff Boycott, Barry Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Sunil Gavaskar, Graeme Gooch, Matt Hayden, Graeme Smith and Alistair Cook.

Posted by reality_check on (February 20, 2012, 12:28 GMT)

If Sehwag wants a legacy then he should refrain from playing outside India specially in England, Australia and SA.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 12:27 GMT)

nonsense,sehwag will alwayz be a good player and an entertainer but i doubt he will become a great one.His current form speaks volumes of his inability to play in alien conditions.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 12:07 GMT)

Good batsman... better than many. Maybe a legend... even a god in India. But greatness intimidates opponents even on their home turf. Such innings for Sehwag are scarce and randomly dotted in his career.Greatness stands up to the best attacks and pushes against the storm even when the wind hits him in the face. Like so many batsmen he has lovely stats going for him. But other than Lara and Tendulkar (before his obsession with records), There hasnt really been much promises of greatness lately.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 11:56 GMT)

Sehwag is a flat track bully who scores runs on flat no spin no swing, no seaming wickets. Everytime i've watched him in test matches against quality bowling on difficult surfaces he has failed to impress me. He slashes at everything outside off. He has no discipline and lacks restraint. He is a good batsman on easy pitches but certainly NOT great.

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (February 20, 2012, 11:17 GMT)

How can Akash Chopra comapre tendulkar to Viv (the mightiest). I recently calculated that if one takes (since ODI is going on) averages of batsman against Eng/Aus/SA in the opposition home countries, Tendulkar has played 133 matches with 3 centuries at average 30. By Comparison, Richards was averaging 61, Chanderpaul 47, Kallis, Lara, Sangakkara etc. in the late 30s etc. Tendulkar has a poor ODI record outside Subcontinent. Truly, Sehwag is a Tendulkar clone.

Posted by DilipR on (February 20, 2012, 11:00 GMT)

Agree totally, esp with 'he seems to be caught up in the idea of batting the way "Sehwag is expected to bat", rather than thinking about how he should bat, especially when the runs have dried up'. some of the shots attempted makes u wonder if its baseball, badminton or if he's just swatting flies with his bat. being in the side as a 'senior', the responsibility he shows towards battiing is zero, and unless he shows some soon, India can do better without him.

Posted by Reggaecricket on (February 20, 2012, 10:52 GMT)

His greatness will return when he returns to India. He is a master on slower sub continental wickets, but will always struggle on wickets with more pace and bounce. I think Sri Lanka Cricket has done the right thing in ordering curators to start preparing quicker wickets. The greatness of any player is tom be measured by their record away from home.

Posted by HK_Sachin on (February 20, 2012, 10:50 GMT)

Catchy title Aakash ji. however this is it isnt it:

Sehwag has time on his hands, though, to set things right. When India go overseas in a couple of years, he'll have one final chance to redeem himself. That would be the clincher of whether he graduates to greatness or settles where he stands currently.

and lets also not get too complacent about at home performances coming up.

Posted by sweetspot on (February 20, 2012, 9:56 GMT)

Oh dear me! Why is the word "FUN" in capitals missing from this article? Sehwag is one of the true FUN elements in the game, and should not be analyzed too much. One never knows when it will all come together for this unique chap, and everything else can rest in the sidelines when it does. We don't want Sehwag reduced to something pedestrian in searching for an imposed idea of "greatness". He is great fun and that in itself is great!

Posted by pan_vtm76 on (February 20, 2012, 9:39 GMT)

watching Shewag's batting is a real treat. One should sit at the edge of his seat with full exitement... He is a ticking bomb, sure he will burst again...

Posted by syedmkr on (February 20, 2012, 9:16 GMT)

His approach of flashing the flat bat is not working in outside subcontinent. He should focus playing to the conditions overseas instead play "natural game" and getting out cheaply which led to the disater for the past 2+ months.

Posted by big_al_81 on (February 20, 2012, 9:06 GMT)

Very good, but not a great. Unlikely ever to be regarded as one outside India. Great entertainer who plays with a fearlessness that is good to watch. It is strange how India is obsessed with the question of greatness in a way that no other country really is. Exploring that issue might make for an interesting article in itself!

Posted by GanJack on (February 20, 2012, 9:05 GMT)

Another weak attempt at analysis Chopra, but you might soon get there, admire your resilience.

Now, coming to your article, I can see that you are gradually getting better in making sense. You just needed to keep things a little simple. Let me explain to you.

Sehwag is a great of test cricket, at least one of the better Indian batsmen who's knocks have directly resulted in test victories for India and as you rightly mention, a strike rate of 80 to go with his 50 odd average. Now, all you needed to see here was Sehwag has a greater influence than Sachin Tedulkar when it comes to playing match-winning innings. I don't see the basis of your argument when you rank Sachin along with greats like Viv and Bradman, not to forget you conveniently ignored Brian Lara. Agreed, he's brought longevity to the game but using this as a parameter for greatness is folly. Look at Sachin himself, he's been in the test team a mighty long time, yet no real test success can be attributed to him.

Posted by Rahul_78 on (February 20, 2012, 9:03 GMT)

Sehwag needs to bat in the middle order. I am sure Rahul and / or VVS have played their last test match. Looking at the perils of Rohit, Raina and Co in the OZ it will take them some time to settle in the test match side and would require lot of guidance and support out in the middle. Sehwags folly currently has been a new and moving ball. With the softer ball he will be at ease in the middle order and though he has been an opener he is an exceptional player of spin bowling and can destroy any spin attack in the world. Age and fitness is catching up with Sehwag and he needs to buckle down and start a fresh in the tests. It is irrespective of his form and average in ODIs as Dhoni has already indicated he is slow in the field for today's evolving limited overs game. Tests are where Veeru belongs and this is where he should concentrate all his energies.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 8:52 GMT)

Very well written..its time for sehwag to realise that he is only a few steps away from the greatness which is associated with the likes of tendulkar and lara .Its time for him to put a price on his wicket ,runs will follow and so will be the greatness.

Posted by chokkashokka on (February 20, 2012, 8:52 GMT)

this so called slump will be over when the series is back to the home of cricket. All of this slump talk will switch over the hapless english and the aussie bats. Can we fast forward to that series?

Posted by Htaseht on (February 20, 2012, 8:48 GMT)

A disgraceful article comparing a flat track bully to Bradman Sachin and Viv? You sure? His average is inflated due to his flat track bullying and ability to get 200 and 300 in a flat pitch His average in tests 20 in NZ 27 in Eng 25 in South Africa and flopped big time against Aus in the current tour. Great? Genius? you gotta be kidding me.Except a 195 against a fourth string Australia attack in 2003 he has been a utter flop throughout his career in testing conditions. Shewag is a walking wicket in a seaming track yet some people think he is great what a joke

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 8:44 GMT)

what the writer has not written about sehwag's ODI record is that no one comes close to his average of 35 with a strike rate of 104... thats the difference

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 8:30 GMT)

Gerry_ - does that mean Ponting can be considered by your discerning veiwers as less than great - considering his subcontinental record? we all saw what England did in less than threatening conditions in UAE. I dont understand this stigma that subcontinental cricketers have to live with - reeks of bias...

Posted by DingDong420 on (February 20, 2012, 8:29 GMT)


Posted by Go_Sachin_Go on (February 20, 2012, 7:55 GMT)

Really good article. AC is one of the few columnists going around who writes like a cricketer and not some self proclaimed nauseating expert. Also, whenever he points out some issues, he will always accompany it with some possible solutions. As for Sehwag, in my opinion, he along with other Indian regular players (senior & junior), need some time off. They just need to take a break from cricket for 2 months, work on the fitness and technical flaws away from the spotlight and just take it easy for a while. These guys have been under severe pressure since the start of the World Cup, which could be felt when they broke into tears after the WC win. They deserved to celebrate and relax. Instead they have been playing non stop cricket since then. They are humans after all.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 7:48 GMT)

Sehwag was NEVER great. He will ALWAYS be a genius!

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (February 20, 2012, 7:44 GMT)

poor record outside subcontinent means that discerning viewers will liken him to fast food.

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (February 20, 2012, 7:35 GMT)

Sehwag will always be respected for his performances whenever he has scored. That's the point. People expect a genius to be intelligent enough to develop a modicum of consistency using his natural talent. Sehwag's "performances" are few and far between. I actually wanted him to go to England and "murder" the bowling there! I've always wanted him to do that. Maybe that's what he needs... instead of IPL, a stint at English County cricket for a year on conditions where he can gain confidence "murdering" the moving ball against opponents not too great in their craft!

Posted by PawanBandaru on (February 20, 2012, 7:18 GMT)

From spectator point of view, comparing with Sehwag of 2008 series to this series he looked lot more determined then and willing to fight it out...these days he is putting lot of less price to his wicket...see the way he got dismissed in Adelaide one day against aussies..sehwag bhai there are lot more people wait in the wings to get opportunity....if u doesnt have enough motivation to continue then pls make way to youngsters...already one God occupied the place for almost 22 years...

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 7:14 GMT)

A very good article indeed! I would argue that immortality is already his, immortality like that of B.J.T. Bosanquet, the "inventor" of the googly. Like Bosanquet, Sehwag has changed the game without having a truly exceptional record as a player. Who today remembers the name of the only bowler to have ever taken more than 300 first-class wickets in a season and who also exceeded 250 wickets in a season no less than six times, records likely to stand for ever? Sehwag, and to a lesser and not as spectacularly successful extent Chris Gayle, has challenged the traditional role of the opener and transcended it. In his case, "how many" is totally irrelevant.

Posted by Romanticstud on (February 20, 2012, 7:09 GMT)

Since the start of 2006 ... if you say 10 tests a a bench mark, Sehwag is second to Tendulkar amongst the averages and just ahead of Laxman ... That is no mean feat ... considering the Indian slump of late ... he tops the strike rate with 88 ... In India it goes up to 93 for this period ... his average at home is 58.66 ... Away from home he tops the list at 84 ... but averages only 42 ... If this is compared to Tendulkar at 51.87 away from home ... and Jaques Kallis 60 away from home ... but hasn't played since 2010 away from home ... The top averages away are deceiving with 4 current SA batsmen in the top 7 ... last years away averages have Dravid near 45 ... Tendulkar at 42 ... Y Singh 35 ... Mishra 31 ... Kohli 28.9 ... Laxman 28.5 ... Ghambir 27.5 ... Raina 25.9 ... Dohni 23 ... Harbajan 21.7 ... Makund 21 ... Saha 19 ... then Sehwag at 18.78 ... Sehwag in the 3 tests at home has 49 and Tendulkar only 43.6 ... with Laxman 99.3 ... Dravid 63 ... Kohli 57.5 ... Why no Dravid?

Posted by sudhirg2007 on (February 20, 2012, 6:29 GMT)

A very well written article. No iota of doubt, that Viru is a class act and a genius who has defied batting manuals again and again. But it is agreed, that off late he has thrown away his wicket and has led to India's downfall in many innings. His attitude of "I will bat like this" has many a times costed India the match. Being now the senior most batsman in the team, his responsibility towards the team cause has increased a lot. He also needs to be a role model for the coming generation of cricketers and this lack lusture attitude may rub badly on others in the team. He can change his batting style, which we all have seen in 2003 and 2008, no doubt that he cannot correct it again and play more responsibily for his country.

Posted by unbiasedfan on (February 20, 2012, 6:16 GMT)

He will be back to his attacking best on the flat tracks of India which is where the team plays for the next 18 months or so. By the time he goes to S Africa the next overseas tour failure there will be forgiven as he would have scored plenty by than in India. He knows this well, very well and that's why he does not see any great need to change and adapt. Why opt for hard work when the public will accept something way less.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 5:41 GMT)

Sehwag is already an all time great and there is not an element of doubt in it...Sometimes he has been guilty of throwing away his wicket due to over-aggression, and it is a known thing that Sehwag cannot curb his aggression...But, it is his aggressive approach that sets him apart from other players... At present, he is going through a bad phase...But he will definitely come back with a bang... If he is able to slightly modify his game by respecting good balls and punishing the bad ones, India can win more matches... No bowler can get him out when he is on song... The only player who can get Sehwag out is Sehwag himself... The only thing that Sehwag has to take care is 'Longevity'... If he has to play for 7 or 8 more years, he has to be preserved...

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 5:27 GMT)

He is overrated. A great players performs in 2 out of 3 games. A good one in 1 out of three, and Sehwag 3 out of 13. I rest my case

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 5:20 GMT)

Viru is a Great Player...No doubt about that...he is going through a rough Patch now....Hope will come out of that and give Great Knocks...

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 5:14 GMT)

Wonderfully written article Akash! Sehwag is a great modern player, who is unorthodox, clear mind and has defied many logics. I am sure hee will get out of this rought patch soon and will surely be counted among the "Greats". I feel he should play in middle order in Tests and continue opening in ODI. He is one who can play witht he tail as well and can potentially forge longer partnerships with them in Tests, also he is one not affected too much by state of the innings and will still play attacking game with the ball 20-30 overs old. He will get a bit tired bowlers and not so swinging ball and he is better adept to use such situations than anyone else in our Test team.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (February 20, 2012, 5:13 GMT)


Posted by TestCricketIsBest on (February 20, 2012, 4:51 GMT)

Well Said Aakash. I agree that Sehwag does have a few more points to prove before he can join the ranks of Dravid and Tendulkar. I believe, that Sehwag is on the verge of greatness. He has played some great knocks, some match saving knocks as well as match turning knocks but I believe he has some way to go in overseas conditions that is outside the subcontinent

Posted by nskaile on (February 20, 2012, 4:32 GMT)

ppl who call him GREAT, let me tell u all tht he dont ave more then 25 whenever he played in SAF, ENG or NZ. And even in Aus he dint score much xpt one 50 if im not wrong. Hes only good on indian and Sl pitches so cant consider him GREAT.

Posted by dsig3 on (February 20, 2012, 4:29 GMT)

After his golden run, I had no doubt he would slump. Its happened to our Aussie players aswell. Hayden, Ponting, Hussey had similar runs of unbelievable luck/form/skill only to have prolonged years in the doldrums fighting for their spot. It will be harder for Sehwag because he can look so horrible getting out that the criticism may sink him. I still would prefer to not play against him because I know he only needs a bit of luck to go his way and he can win a game from anywhere. When it comes together for Sehwag there is no worse sight for an opposition fan. A guy who looks like a club cricketer slapping your bowlers all over the park.

Posted by LillianThomson on (February 20, 2012, 4:23 GMT)

Sehwag has always been nothing more than a gifted slogger, and the funniest thing I have ever seen in cricket was when the ICC's All-Time Test poll last year was dominated by Indian voters and led to Sehwag being one of the two openers. Sehwag averages 58 in the First Innings of Tests and 70 in the Second (on easy Day 2 and 3 wickets) but this drops to 29.72 in the Third and 31.50 in the Fourth, which places him where he belongs - 10 runs per innings below the likes of West Indies Sherwin Campbell in the second half of a match. Sehwag's record in his team's Second Innings of a test (i.e. on days 3-5) is similar to Imran Farhat, is twelve runs per innings worse than Shahid Afridi, and makes Philip Hughes look like Don Bradman. Sehwag can't rescue his career, because he has always been a waste of space after the first innings of Tests.

Posted by Deuce03 on (February 20, 2012, 4:14 GMT)

I feel the real job of the opener (in Tests, at least) is to protect the middle order. Whether they do this by carting the ball to all corners and scoring lots of runs to relieve the pressure or by leaving enough deliveries that the ball loses its shine isn't really important, so long as by the time the #4 batsman arrives at the crease the bowling has lost its sting. Match situations dictate that sometimes one approach will be better than another. The problem I always have with Sehwag is that he doesn't fulfil this role adequately. He scores either a hundred or zip. When he doesn't score big runs - which is most of the time - he's usually out quickly and exposes the middle order. India have had a powerful middle order for years but now they are on the wane and Sehwag isn't doing enough to protect them. He needs to learn to bat more cautiously when the situation requires it - or move down the order to a point where his frequent failures would have less of a knock-on impact.

Posted by Meety on (February 20, 2012, 4:13 GMT)

Very good article. IMO, the problem for Sehwag is that he is not aging gracefully. He looks unfit & I wonder whether the reflexes are where they need to be for an opener. Openers don't tend to last long past 35 over the last 50 yrs. Grenidge & Haynes weren't the batsmen they use to be when they retired late in life, Matty Hayden's powers were diminishing. You can even include Ponting @#3 showing signs of never getting back to where he was. The funny thing about Sehwag is underneath it all, he once possessed one of the tightest defences I've seen. He was a Sachin-clone in defence. Chopra rightly points out, that Sehwag seems to play the way he thinks he is suppose to play. He really does need to talk with Sachin & discuss the ways Sachin adjusted his game for the aging process. Even Lara tinkered with his game (slightly), at the end of his career. Sehwag is in danger of becoming known as a home town hero & his great overseas knocks will be regarded as quirks unless he changes his ways!!

Posted by arun1094 on (February 20, 2012, 4:09 GMT)

Aakash Chopra has hit the nail on the head. Every Sehwag century outside subcontinent had lots of patience in it during the start of the innings. Tats missing now and the results are everyone to see..!

Posted by MinusZero on (February 20, 2012, 3:53 GMT)

The way Sehwag goes about getting his runs puts him in his own category. I dont think anyone else can be compared to his test record. A career strike rate of over 80 and an average over 50 speaks for itself

Posted by Sanj747 on (February 20, 2012, 3:50 GMT)

Bit precious and presumptious to have Sehwag being compared with Sir Donald Bradman and Viv Richards. Hard to see how this is a worthy comparison. Seems to have become quite lazyon the field just having watched him live at the Sydney test match. Attitude and or arrogance is the issue.

Posted by donda on (February 20, 2012, 3:24 GMT)

He is already a great player.

Posted by bluefunk on (February 20, 2012, 3:13 GMT)

as well-reasoned as ever. especially valuable because aakash has spent significant time at the other end during some of sehwag's best knocks (melbourne and multan come to mind). hope this is not forgotten when sehwag is backif to mauling all comers on the subcontinent in a few months. i wish the march series with pakistan was happening as per the FTP. at abu dhabi, if nowhere else. terrific prospect, if the governments were to agree.

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Aakash ChopraClose
Aakash Chopra Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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