Former India opener Virender Sehwag strongly feels that five-day matches should not be altered, as he compared Test cricket with ‘romance’ between two individuals. Delivering the ‘MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture’ at the annual BCCI Awards in Mumbai on Sunday, the pinch-hitter spoke on a range of issues, which included the modifications in Test cricket to corruption in the sport. He also expressed his concern over doping violations among youngsters, and how they face the wrath of it in the initial phase of their career.
Kicking off the event, Sehwag started off by sharing an interesting episode between him and legendary batsman Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi. Recalling the incident from somewhere around 2004-05, the former India opener said how Pataudi’s advice helped him improve his performance in Test cricket.
Stating what the former India skipper had said to him regarding his batting technique, Sehwag said, “Pataudi sir pointed out to me that I stood a bit far from the ball while batting, which increases the chances of getting out. He then advised that instead of taking a leg-stump guard, I should stand at the middle stump, or middle-off, which will help me get closer to the ball.”
“However, I usually don’t take anyone’s advice, and Sourav Ganguly knows it very well. But since I had immense respect towards Pataudi sir, so I took his advice and applied it in my batting, and this is one of the reasons for me doing well in Test cricket,” he added.
He then went on to compare Test cricket as a romance between two individuals. “Five-day Test cricket is romance. The bowler tries to get the batsman out by setting up. Batsman tries to win the challenge, deciding what shots should he execute and try to build an inning. The fielder at slips waits for a catch, just like a guy waiting for a ‘yes’ from his beloved. He waits for a catch standing at that position for an entire day, thinking when will the batsman edge and he will grab it.”
Speaking on the recently proposed modifications in Test cricket by ICC, the former India opener stated, “Little bit of innovations in Test cricket is okay, like the recent inclusion of numbers in a jersey and other experiments are fine. However, a diaper and five-day cricket should only be replaced when it’s of no use. I personally don’t feel that Test cricket is bad, thus there shouldn’t be any change.”
“Test cricket is a 143-year-old strong man, fit just like the current Indian team, it has a soul and it should always remain this way. I think ‘chaar din ki chandni hoti hain, Test match nahi,’ but if you want to take Test cricket close to the moon, then let’s start playing more Day/Night Test, which will ensure more crowd at the Indian stands. Whatever innovations are required, it should be within the five days and not by reducing a day.”
Listing out a few stats from the past ten years in Test cricket, Sehwag said, ” In the past five years out of 223 Tests, only 31 have ended in a draw. That means only 13 percent have been drawn, which still is much higher than our current GDP. And if we consider the last 10 years, then only 83 have ended in a draw out of 433 Test matches, which is just 19 percent.”
Speaking on on-field discipline, Sehwag said, “Sledging the opponent or sometimes swearing against the teammate isn’t healthy for the sport. Healthy banters with hurling abuses against each other makes cricket interesting, especially Tests.”
Sehwag on Australia bushfire: “The bushfire which has affected massive lives in your country, my nation prays for your well-being.”
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 12, 2020
Sehwag on match-fixing and doping: “If you love this game, then you should not go on that path. If you go to that path, it means you don’t love this game, that means you are only playing for money. If you play well, the money will follow. So don’t go (that path). If somebody contacts you, please tell BCCI and the ICC, that is important. If you ignore, he will go to somebody else and that somebody else might do stupid things. Make sure, that you inform.”
“I can understand a lot of cricketers are doing fitness (regimens), having a lot of shakes but I don’t think that you can have anything and build your muscles, which can help you to perform in batting or bowling.”
“So please keep yourself available for anti-doping (tests). We have seen a couple of young cricketers banned by BCCI for having banned substances. It’s the BCCI’s responsibility also to ensure that awareness starts from the under-16 and under-19 levels.”
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