Sehwag knows his job well

THE other day, I was talking to an old friend and the discussion centred around cricket. What else could it be when two cricketers meet. And obviously we talked about the current state of affairs in Indian cricket with the focus being on preparing for the World Cup.

Are we prepared? An interesting question which can best be answered by people at the helm. They know the ground realities and they also know the best way they can utilise the talent at their disposal. For a layman though the debate arouses interest because cricket has such a passionate following in the country.

I have often wondered why does India fail to capitalise on the talent that comes its way. There have been so many cases of youngsters losing their way in the absence of proper guidance. Here, I think it becomes important for the seniors in the team and those on the circuit to take some interest in the young talent and hone their skills.

Sadly we don't have a system where a young cricketer is groomed in a professional manner. There is no system where the selectors can have access to data regarding promising cricketers. It helps if selectors know the progress chart of a particular youngster and I am not sure if players from weaker teams get any recognition.

I know even today Kapil Dev talks of how the trio of Maninder Singh, L. Sivaramakrishnan and Sadanand Viswanath wasted their talent. They all earned their breaks very early, and rightly at the most appropriate time, but then lost way due to lack of guidance. Success came to them early because they were immensely talented but then they failed to achieve their potential. Proper guidance from the seniors and former cricketers would have certainly helped these three cricketers who would have been great assets to Indian cricket.

There are so many others who failed to live up to their potential for various reasons. Not getting a proper break was one of the major factors and then not being able to cope with the pressures of the big league was another. Every cricketer learns to handle the pressure only from experience and that is why I firmly believe that talented youngsters have to be groomed by experts.

I want to point out the case of Virender Sehwag, who made his debut against Pakistan when it visited India. He was drafted into the side but not much attention was paid to let the boy understand the difference between the level of cricket he had played and the one he was about to. His approach remained same and obviously he failed to do justice. And then he was forgotten by the selectors, who very well knew that he had the talent to play international cricket.

If Sehwag managed to return to the national team it was because of his hard work. There was never any doubt that he was good but Sehwag too needed some backing. I am glad he did not shed his natural approach and came back roaring.

In my opinion, Indian cricket can do much better provided talented players like Sehwag are nurtured properly. Today, all kinds of comparisons are being made and people are raving about Sehwag's batsmanship but then someone should also work on his flaws. It will not help Sehwag if he does not get guidance at the right time and it will be sad if he ends up the way some others have in the past.

Players like Sehwag are most welcome because of the fact that they can win matches singlehandedly. Some of his innings have suggested that Sehwag does not pay much attention to the reputation of the opposition. It is a good sign because a batsman needs sound temperament to play his natural game at any point of the match. Sehwag has that quality and his strokeplay can be infectious, inspiring the others too.

The confidence that Sehwag exudes in the middle speaks for the man's approach. I have seen very few batsmen who walk out with such confidence and the best thing about Sehwag is that he knows his job well.

If the ball is meant to be hit, Sehwag will not hesitate even if it happens to be the first ball he faces. Just the quality that Sachin Tendulkar has. I know Sachin enjoys the company of Sehwag because both like to dominate and their combined aggression can prove to be a lethal combination. I am convinced that Sehwag is the answer to most of India's problems. His positive attitude is worth emulating for the rest.

Sehwag has also realised the importance of consistency. I have spoken to him on this subject and there is no doubt in my mind that he has the mental resolve to face any attack. What makes me so confident is the fact that Sehwag is one of the few youngsters I have known who does not lose sleep worrying about the state of the pitch. He treats the ball on merit and at times makes his point with some audacious strokeplay. He has the best attitude among the young players.

Another youngster worth investing is Yuveraj Singh, forgotten by the selectors. A lot was said about the attitude of Yuveraj but then his was again the case of not being able to get the right guidance when he was climbing the stairs of success. From all accounts, Yuveraj is an immensely talented player and it will be a pity if he is lost in the crowd of cricketers being projected as promising. Yuveraj needs a break now and the team management would do well to impress upon the selectors the advantage of having Yuveraj in the side. he can lift the fielding standards with his work and can be looked at as an all-rounder. He has delivered in the past and I am confident he has the ability of being groomed as a match-winner.

Sehwag has shown the way and cricketers like Yuveraj should draw motivation from the Delhi batsman's wonderful comeback. As far as the seniors are concerned, they should ensure that youngsters make the Indian dressing room a temple of cricket education. Sachin, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid are ideal role models for all the young and talented cricketers in the country.