Tuesday, February 23, 2010

See it. Hit it. Forget it.

“Stand and deliver” Sunil Gavaskar shouted on air in his typically patriotic voice when Virendar Sehwag clobbered one over extra cover during his brutally entertaining 293 against Srilanka. But he forgot to mention another important aspect of his effervescent batting, a bout of amnesia to forget everything which has happened. It should have been “stand, deliver and forget”. The secret of his batting lies in neither in his backlift nor in his batspeed, but it is in his uncluttered mind with a simple thought process: see the ball, hit the ball. Easier said than done, of course, but not for Viru. Who else will try to club (and succeed) Saqlain Mustaq over midwicket for a six to get triple hundred after having failed to do so while on 195 hardly 2 months before. The beauty of Sehwag’s batsmanship is keeping simple things simpler than most other batsmen are able to even imagine.

Critics say he is a flat track bully. My answer: His first six centuries came against six different opponents in 5 different countries. They accuse him to have no footwork and only hand eye co-ordination. My answer: You don’t score triple centuries for fun with only hand eye co-ordination. They try to prove that bowling standards have come down. My answer: He has dismantled every bowler in sight, from Mills to McGrath, from Aktar to Anderson, from Murali to Malinga. They substantiate that he knows only one way to bat. My answer: Get an old DVD of his match saving 154 against Australia in Adelaide 2008. They blabber that he throws his wicket away too often. My answer: Look at the number of Test matches he won singlehandedly.

Sehwag’s influence is not merely winning matches for India. His mere presence in the team affects the way opposition thinks. No score is considered safe, no boundary is deemed too big, no bowler is seemed capable of dismissing him. He even forces his teammates to believe in themselves. After England set a stiff target of 387 on a deteriorating pitch in the 2008 Chennai Test match, no one in either side believed that an Indian victory is possible, except Sehwag. He came out all guns blazing to race to 83 in no time which included 11 fours and 4 sixes. After that carnage what India needed was a cool head on a stable shoulder and Sachin Tendulkar duly obliged with one of his masterpieces which he dedicated for the terror stricken people of Mumbai. But what made it possible was Sehwag’s cameo which made English shoulders to drop and Indian spirits to soar. Barring only Viv Richards, there has never been anyone like Sehwag who thrives on with each challenge however impossible it is. While Viv, with his brand of exuberant batsmanship, tried to emancipate the West Indian minds from colonial slavery, Sehwag tries to give wings to his own free soul.

Our cricketing lore has always been rich with batting greats. Even when the team was failing miserably we used to romanticize the deeds of our great batsmen. Only recently our team started to convert individual contribution to collective success consistently and Sehwag is inarguably one of the important cogs in that wheel of success. Shewag can be definitely bracketed with the elite company of CK Naydu, Lala Amarnath, Vijay Hazare, Gundappa vishwanath, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, though his relative impact to Indian cricket is open to debate. His position in the pantheon of Indian cricket’s batting greats is firmly in place and sky is the limit for this free-flowing explosive batsman. It takes some efforts to better a batting average of 54 and a strike rate of 81, but Sehwag will definitely be embracing that challenge with all the vigour, which promises exciting times indeed!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Flowers of Manchester

Feb 6th today. A fateful day in the history of Manchester United. Found these wonderful lines and posting it here. May their souls Rest In Peace

The Flowers of Manchester
One cold and bitter Thursday in Munich, Germany,
Eight great football stalwarts conceded victory,
Eight men will never play again who met destruction there,
The flowers of English football, the flowers of Manchester

Matt Busby’s boys were flying, returning from Belgrade,
This great United family, all masters of their trade,
The pilot of the aircraft, the skipper Captain Thain,
Three times they tried to take off and twice turned back again.

The third time down the runaway disaster followed close,
There was slush upon that runaway and the aircraft never rose,
It ploughed into the marshy ground, it broke, it overturned.
And eight of the team were killed as the blazing wreckage burned.

Roger Byrne and Tommy Taylor who were capped for England’s side.
And Ireland’s Billy Whelan and England’s Geoff Bent died,
Mark Jones and Eddie Colman, and David Pegg also,
They all lost their lives as it ploughed on through the snow.

Big Duncan he went too, with an injury to his brain,
And Ireland’s brave Jack Blanchflower will never play again,
The great Matt Busby lay there, the father of his team
Three long months passed by before he saw his team again.
The trainer, coach and secretary, and a member of the crew,

Also eight sporting journalists who with United flew,
and one of them Big Swifty, who we will ne’er forget,
the finest English ‘keeper that ever graced the net.

Oh, England’s finest football team its record truly great,
its proud successes mocked by a cruel turn of fate.
Eight men will never play again, who met destruction there,
The Flowers of English Football…..
The Flowers of Manchester