Footwork is for Mortals

One of the greatest things about the contemporary world game is the fact that it gives you the opportunity to watch Virender Sehwag bat.  Few players in the game’s history – and even fewer openers – have combined blazing, aggressive strokeplay and consistent run-making to greater effect.

I wrote this after he had made an unbeaten 284 in less than a day for India against Sri Lanka at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai in December 2009.  He went on to make 293.

One of the best things (and there are many to choose from) about Virender Sehwag is that watching him can make you re-consider all that you ever knew about batting.  For example, every coaching manual you’ll ever read will emphasize the importance of footwork in batting, but is it really that important? Not for Viru.

Sehwag has often shown (and yesterday was surely his apogee) that all he needs is a bowler and a bat.  Some of the greatest hand-eye co-ordination and bat speed ever known will do the rest, coupled with under-rated shot selection and defence, insatiable run-hunger and a sprinkling of luck.

In a marginally less astonishing way it’s worked for others too.  Some very similar qualities have always stood Marcus Trescothick in good stead, and there are others.  Sadly I never saw him in the flesh but all the footage of Graeme Pollock I’ve ever seen gives the impression of someone who’d just stand there and hit the cover off the ball until the bowlers couldn’t take any more.

As with all kinds of aspects of all kinds of games, the Greats make their own rules.

Different Shades of Green, 4th December 2009