May 27, 2006

Courier of cricket

Watched the beginning of the fourth India/WI one-day match last night. I think I'm finally convinced of two things. I don't like the way Virender Sehwag bats, and I don't think he has got his mind to grasp the one-day game.

Second point first. Sehwag is a fantastic talent. What else can you say about a man with the remarkable Test average of 52, scored at a strike-rate of 75; with 7 of his 11 centuries soaring past 150, and a triple-century in there?

You can say that he just hasn't done justice to his talent in one-dayers. After 150 matches -- by when he really should have established himself -- he has the mediocre average of 32. It's been over a year since his last century, almost a third of his career ago. As many have noticed, he's getting the starts -- the 20s, the 30s -- but he rarely converts them into the big scores. (Actually his average has never got much higher than 32 anyway).

And after 150 matches, you have to conclude that the mediocrity is a mental thing. Something about playing one-dayers weighs on his mind.

He might benefit, as his current captain once did, from a spell off the team.

First point second. What appeals to me in cricket, apart from the truly fast and furious bowlers, are the guys with the classic batting styles. Dravid's leaned drives and that rocked-back cut, Mark Waugh's short armed square cuts with an almost vertical bat, Lara's extravagant and audacious pulls -- and his fabulous footwork -- even Suresh Raina's smooth caresses.

On the other hand, I never found Azhar's and Laxman's famous wristiness particularly attractive, nor Tendulkar's punchy shots, and certainly not Sehwag's swishes and whacks. I mean, these are all great batsmen. I just don't find their batting particularly attractive to watch.

Sehwag, least of all. Talented he may be, hand-eye coordination and all that, but the man is such an ugly strokeplayer. Watching him, I quickly lose track of how often he stays rooted to the crease and sort of hacks at the ball. His coordination is so good that he usually gets his runs with those shots. But they are ugly nevertheless.

The Jim Courier of cricket, he might be: great player, wins a lot, powerful strokes. But nothing attractive about those strokes.

And I wonder if the unattractiveness has anything to do with the poor run of one-day scores.


Anonymous said...

I agree he should me made to sit out for a couple of matches. And talking of "beauty", I love watching Tendulkar and Lara.

Dravid's very nice to watch too of course, but I'd but Tendulkar above him where 'style' was concerned.

Anonymous said...

Why did you feel compelled to remind us that there is one more subject you know nothing about? Stick to reservations.

Anonymous said...

About Sehwag, I agree with what you have said here.

You mentioned guys with the "Classic" batting style -- I doubt if we have someone beyond Dravid in that category. I also consider Laxman to be of that mould but Raina, I have not seen enough of him to comment on that.

I feel the "copy-book-style" batsmen (all of the above that is) have an inherent tendency to stick around in the middle. Once they survive the first few anxious moments they are difficult to get out (Though Laxman has proven me wrong a few times). On the other hand, what worries me here is that the new "talented" batsmen that we are roping in, are essentially powerful hitters. Dhoni, Sehwag and even Yuvraj.

In fact, this is one of the reasons why I have always believed that Yuvraj in place of Laxman in the test team is a dangerous thought.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Of course, Anirudh, as soon as I put this up, Sehwag scores another 90+ and therefore cements his place some more! I do think he is vital to the team -- witness also his excellent 10 over spell yesterday (29 runs, I think). But like you, I think he needs a break to sort through his batting in ODIs.

Truman, good to hear from you! You have a good point about powerful hitters, meaning as opposed to the grit-it-out accumulators of runs. May not be such a good development, Test-wise. The team needs to find long-term replacements for Tendulkar/Dravid/Ganguly/Laxman. Who will they be? Kaif, maybe? Why wasn't Amol Muzumdar ever given a chance?

This was once a regular blog but, after six said...

Hehe...I think Nilu is onto something there! You don't see the aesthetic in Tendulkar? How he can (could?) effortlessly play shots that others couldn't even envision, and yet make them look classical all the same?

As for Sehwag, you may be right about that stint off the team. But that's another topic. I still find that every now and then, interspersed with those ugly swishes, he can play shots of gasp-in-awe beauty. Like that forward defence between point and cover-point that went for 4 in the last ODI.

And for the life of me, I cannot remember Mark Waugh cutting the ball, let alone with a straight bat. Are you sure you don't mean Damien Martyn?

R. said...

there ain't nothin like a ganguly cover drive...

Sailesh Ganesh said...

I wonder why beauty in cricket has to be restricted to stroke-making. I find the way Shane Warne or Muralitharan tease the batsman with spin equally aesthetic. Not to mention the way Wasim Akram used to move the ball at will without so much as a leap! I do not like watching McGrath bowl though.