Let us give it to him. Or as my not so consensual cricketing buddy and co-author here might say, “We have all given him that, you are last in the line!” Admittedly, I take the envisaged rebuff quietly and with a straight face. Virendra Sehwag’s Wisden International Cricketer of the Year Award for the second time running is a tribute to the buccaneer from Faridabad and to what he has brought to world cricket in general and test cricket in particular. Sehwag’s run-a-ball double hundreds and more than a run-a-ball big double hundreds speak of a man whose quick hands, great gleaming eyes, concerted aggression and precise stroke play, which make for a hotbed of runs, do not in any way interfere with the coolness of the mind. Batting long requires focus; batting rapidly demands self-belief and phenomenal versatility in shot-making and Sehwag has managed both without letting rashness creep into his game through the backdoor.
Consequently, one is probably tempted to say that on-song he would put two of the most belligerent yesteryear batsmen in Matthew Hayden and Brian Lara to shame. Sehwag may yet fail (but as his test record and an average inching towards Dravid’s shows it does not happen as often as oppositions have been expecting it to). Be that as it may, his failures will not come because of technique or lack of it, for he has never relied on it for more than a couple of minutes in every innings one would think. But if he gets a couple of starts in every series – which invariably means something close to a hundred at least at his strike-rate – something he has been doing consistently over the last two years, the Indian middle-order can come in and rub it into the opposition. That we have been winning more test matches and had time to bowl oppositions out is a tribute to the Daredevils' Mauler who is now a senior batsman in the Indian team.
Looking at the other five Wisden Cricketers of the year, I was a tad surprised even though the picks per se cannot be called 'controversial'. If anything, they seemed a touch 'parochial'! Graeme Swann who has indubitably had a dream year, Stuart Broad who has been Swann’s fast-bowling comrade-in-arms, England skipper Andrew Strauss whose old-fashioned doggedness (or is ‘doughtiness’ a better word for the way he always led from the front when the chips were down?) and cold and ugly but efficient runs were crucial in giving England the Ashes and Graham Onions – the Draw Expert, as I called him on twitter – are the ones from England to make up the list. Michael Clarke's successful Ashes even as he was part of an imploding ship and his lovely hundreds against across-the-boundary brothers in New Zealand make him the fifth in Wisden's list.
While the inclusions themselves are very much deserving, the pro-Australian and –English selection by Wisden ‘perhaps’ shows that for the game’s canonical cricketing bodies the Ashes is bigger than a dinosaur on a cricket field and an England-Australian slow rubber on a grey afternoon at Headingley is much more of a headline-catcher than a Dale Steyn rout at Ahmedabad, Gautam Gambhir’s consecutive streak of half-centuries, consistent batting by A. B. De Villiers or the little Master’s second-coming. Now, now do not get me 'wrong' or become all greedy thinking that you have picked up some cheesy headlines from my post to disprove my lack of bias. (You don’t need to go that far: ask Venky and he will sing paeans, songs, ballads and posts about by unabashed bigotry when it comes to certain things!) Jokes apart, if you take my posts seriously at all that is, I was just offering a ‘view’ on the all-English-(one)-Australian selection for the Wisden Cricketers of the Year.
Swann (extreme left) and skipper Andrew Strauss (to his right)
were instrumental in getting back the Ashes urn.
And hang on! Before signing off, I would like you all to take a look at this man (I mean read him because he looks slightly better than I do in the worst of my dreams but writes miles greater than I do in the best of my dreams): Andy Zaltzman. Going by his blog, I assume his surname at least is partly or fully contorted or distorted or in plain man’s words modified. Take a look: he is simply hilarious.