My friend Nagraj Gollapudi has a delightful interview with Virender Sehwag up on Cricinfo, in which Sehwag, in his usual forthright manner, talks about the way he plays cricket. For example, about his Multan triple hundred:
[Sachin Tendulkar] always likes to chat and can get serious and caution you not to hit unnecessary shots. During that [Multan] innings he told me, “If you try to hit a six I will hit you on the bum.” He gave me a simple example – about my Melbourne innings in 2003, when I tried to hit a six on 195 and got out. Till then India were in a good position, but after that we couldn’t make a big score and we lost the Test. So he made me realise my mistake. That is why I didn’t hit sixes in Multan, but when I was near 300 I told him that I was going to hit Saqlain [Mushtaq] and he could hit me on my bum!
And on hitting sixes against spinners:
I was a middle-order batsman who was too good against spin and hit sixes consistently in Under-19 and Ranji cricket, and I still have the same confidence. Once Gary Kirsten asked me, “What would you do if there is a long-off, long-on and deep midwicket?” I asked, “Gary sir, do fielders matter to me?” He burst out laughing.
Any big hitter, like Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Tendulkar, all can hit a six but they don’t want to get out. There is a 1% risk.
Let me give an example: I was batting on 291 at Chepauk, against South Africa. I told Paul Harris, “Come round the wicket and first ball I’ll hit you for a six.” He accepted my challenge and the very first ball I hit him for a straight six, and there was a long-off, long-on, deep midwicket and a deep point. I was so tired and he was bowling on the pads and I was getting bored. So rather than spending 10-15 minutes to get to the triple-century I gave him good advice.
FSM bless such boredom.
Most cricketers, when they find themselves having to talk to journos and face press conferences, learn to master platitudes and banalities—but not Sehwag. He always says what’s on his mind, and can hit a stupid question for six with his earthy wit. I covered the 2004-05 series when Pakistan toured India, and Sehwag made 173 in the first Test and 201 in the third. After the latter innings, an over-eager journo asked him at the post-match PC, “Sehwagji, aapke is hundred aur pehle Test ke hundred mein kya farak tha.” Sehwag gave him a blank look and said, “Bas, kuchh tees run ka farak tha.”
I’ll never forget how seriously the journo in question copied this down.
Whenever Sehwag is done with playing the game, I hope he becomes a commentator. He’s likely to be the kind of no-bullshit guy who’ll take off the pants of his fellow commentators if they talk rubbish—and that should be fun.
(Link via email from Arun Simha.)