Thursday, March 04, 2010

Sehwag, The Simple

(Also in Bengali daily Ek Din)
There’s something quite amazing about Virender Sehwag, and no, I am not talking about him being India’s second-best Test batsman of all time (after Rahul Dravid). I am talking about the man himself. Just his attitude towards life.

Just a couple of days back, Sehwag appeared for a press conference in Delhi. No questions on cricket, we were told. We were told that Sehwag wants to talk about something very specific, and different.

And what we got was Sehwag talking about his hair. You would have noticed how the completely bald Sehwag has recently sprouted a nice, lush outfield on his head. Almost the exact opposite of what happens to the pitch the morning before a Test match in India against one of the teams with good pace attacks.

In any case, for a while, Sehwag gave no one even a glimpse of his head. Bandanas, caps, hats, helmets...the secret was well protected. I remember a colleague telling me, “Dekhna, yeh hair-weaving kara raha hai”. It turned out to be true. That’s exactly what Sehwag was up to. But that’s not important. It’s fun to joke about, but nothing more.

What’s important, and interesting, is the man himself, and how he approaches most of these matters.

2000-2001; as a cub sports reporter, Sehwag was one of my regular interviewees as he was making waves and getting into the Indian team. He was one of my ‘contacts’, I thought. Till, within a year or so, he became really big. I called him. He greeted me fairly warmly on the phone, told me he was sitting in a ‘coffee shop in a five-star hotel’, quite proudly. And then told me, without any arrogance, but with a fair dollop of innocence: “You’ll have to SMS me if you want my interview; too many people want me now”. Simple. Hoiked from outside off over mid-wicket for a six.

In fact, ‘simple’ is a word that comes to mind often when thinking about Sehwag. He is a simple man. His batting is simple. And he deals with situations pretty much the same way. Like with Harsha Bhogle recently. Sehwag would rather bat in the middle-order, so Harsha said, “But it’s because you are an opener that you are getting to bat for long periods and scoring those big hundreds”. Sehwag’s reply: “If I were batting in the middle-order, I would have scored more.” And he explained, “I am still not comfortable with the moving ball so much.” Wonder if he explained that to the Pakistanis and South Africans after those triple centuries!

To come back to the hair-weaving press conference; sample a few of his answers: “I got the weaving done because it helps get advertisements”, “Have you ever seen bald men do ads”, “It’s not to get female fans, I am married”, “If you have hair, you can take off your cap more often”. Again, simple; and, of course, witty.