“Adding method to madness” is a phrase that cannot suit anyone more aptly than Virender Sehwag. When Sehwag burst on to the international scene in 2001, no one could expect he would reach such enviable heights. Method to madness in cricketing terms means, for those who may be unsure, playing with a lot of aggression but also assessing the situation well and keeping mind over matter. Only a very few batsmen in the world have been able to be very aggressive and dominating insofar having a phenomenal strike rate but also making plenty of runs and winning their teams plenty of matches. A few names come to mind such as Viv Richards or Adam Gilchrist, but none of them have added method to madness in such a way as Sehwag has done.
In Tests Sehwag averages 53 with 15 centuries and 14 fifties. His strike rate of 77 is excellent for Tests. In ODI’s he averages 32 but with 9 centuries and 29 fifties and an amazing strike rate of 99. Sehwag’s true value to the Indian team cannot be expressed without detailing his records:
1)He is only the 3rd batsman (the other 2 being Bradman and Lara) to have scored 300 twice in a Test innings.
2)He has scored 5 double hundreds in Test cricket, only behind Miandad, Sangakkara and Atapattu(6), W Hammond(7), Lara(9) and Bradman(12). He is 29 currently and has a long batting career ahead of him, fitness permitting.
3)He has scored the fastest triple century in international cricket (off 278 balls)
Sehwag’s 201 (not out) in the first innings of the 2nd Test between India and Sri Lanka epitomised his significance to the team. This was not the first time when Sehwag has dominated a bowling attack whereas most of the other Indian batsmen have failed at the same time. The secret behind Sehwag’s greatness is immense raw talent in the form of excellent hand-eye coordination. Few players in world cricket are as good as Sehwag when it comes to picking up the line and length of the delivery and creating a stroke. Most people will not compare Sehwag with greats like Bradman, Lara and Inzamam who have scored triple centuries and they will not place him in the same category, perhaps rightly so. However what Sehwag has achieved which these greats did not, is the pace at which he has scored those triple centuries. Whereas the hallmark of the triple centuries scored by Bradman and Lara is patience and stamina, the distinguishing feature of Sehwag’s mega-tons has been complete domination and aggressiveness and a refusal to succumb to any type of pressure.
Yet Sehwag is not without his criticisms. He has been accused of being too reckless and of not acknowledging the enormous responsibility on his shoulders. Verily, Sehwag’s ODI average of 32 does not do justice to his boundless talent. His technique is not without risks, but even his most passionate fans agree he can do better. Sehwag has also been accused of not doing enough to remedy some technical deficiencies such as poor strokeplay when he gets cramped for room.
Nevertheless, Sehwag stands as something of a red herring. Perhaps unfulfilled potential too in some cases, some might say. His triple centuries, his free flowing style of batting and the Indian team’s increasing dependence of him make him appear as good as any Tendulkar’s or Lara’s of this world. Yet there have been stages in his career where he has been a dispensable prospect and the Indian team has almost benefited from his omission. As long as he is consistent (and to be fair to him, he has been reasonably consistent for most of his career which is indicated by his very impressive Test average and decent ODI average) he will be a regular in the side and will win India many matches.
Hence to conclude, Sehwag had added a new dimension to the art of batting in modern cricket. By adding this method to madness he has become a run making machine, a truly formidable opponent to any opposition and a consistent match winner for India. Perhaps the most potent indication of Sehwag’s greatness is and will be, that most coaches 10 years down the line will probably instruct their students to bat like Virender Sehwag, where batting is all about scoring runs very quickly but with also a lot of control and precision. This seems especially true with the changing nature of international cricket which is now very quickly becoming a game for aggressive batsmen, and batsmen who take their time to settle down such as Rahul Dravid are unlikely to be successful in such situations in the long run.