Thanks Viru, for all the entertainment

It will be interesting to see which route Virender Sehwag takes post-retirement but there is no doubt that he will do a fair and good job of whatever he undertakes.

It will be difficult to fill the void created by the retirement of Virender Sehwag.

It will be difficult to fill the void created by the retirement of Sehwag.   -  PTI

During the late 1990s, a young batsman from Delhi was regarded as one bent on self-destruction because he looked to play in top gear all the time. He got out fending to medium-pacers at times, holed out to spinners more often than not and therefore it did not take long for him to be labelled as a player who was suited to the slam bang type. However, criticism did not deter the curly haired youngster to carry on batting in the manner he preferred. After a few seasons into first-class cricket, he racked up decent scores to be considered for selection at the higher level. But the problem was that the selectors felt the flamboyant batsman had no place in Test cricket. It took all the persuasive powers of Sourav Ganguly to convince the selectors to pick him for the Test series in South Africa in 2001.

The aggressive mode was very much in view even on his debut in Bloemfontein. He notched up a century without much ado and announced that Virender Sehwag had arrived. The point was made that batting was not all about being orthodox and circumspect. But the bigger issue for Sehwag was that he needed to succeed over and over again to gain acceptance. Sehwag’s clear mind enabled him to stick to his belligerent approach and boy did he succeed? He redefined the parameters of batting and proved that offence is the best form of defence. His approach to batting was in a way similar to the great Viv Richards but Sehwag has always discouraged any comparison with the master blaster.

Sehwag’s career was obviously not smooth but he was always a team-man to the core. The manner in which he smashed the ball all over the park against the best of bowlers will be folklore. In doing so, he gave the bowlers a tough time apart from providing fantastic entertainment to the public. Though his style was not thought to be a role model for youngsters, the one overlooked fact is that there was a sound method to his batting. His head was still and he never played too far away from his body. The subtle difference was that he had capability of adjusting the down swing of his bat with great alacrity. As he once remarked to a group of youngsters, “I was lucky to succeed 7 out of 10 times while going for my shots.” That remark is more a reflection of his modesty and his straight forwardness.

On his attribute of straight talk, I once mentioned to him that as much as I enjoyed his batting, I enjoyed his interviews a shade more. He looked at me searchingly to see if I was taking the Mickey out of him but someone suggested to him that I was not. Sehwag was rare in that he never thought of being politically correct even if it might affect him at times. What you see is what you get with Sehwag, which is so refreshing these days. It will be interesting to see which route Sehwag takes post-retirement but there is no doubt that he will do a fair and good job of whatever he undertakes. His school is a standing example of his thought process and I am sure that his institution will produce a lot of champions in the future. Even if it doesn’t, the society will be a far better place if the students of that school turn out to be half as modest, truthful and committed as Sehwag.

Team India was fortunate to have him at the top of the order and I am convinced that it will be futile for others to attempt Sehwag’s methods. The likes of Richards, AB de Villiers and Sehwag are in a league of their own and are to be admired. Thanks Viru, for all the excitement and entertainment you provided for so many years. Wishing you all the very best in your future endeavours.