Virender Sehwag may or may not know Andrea Pirlo. But for those have seen the elegant Italian play — the experience is pretty special. He has settled into a slightly deeper role in the midfield — he commands the troops with his sweeping vision and his through passes have the artist’s touch.
But in 2011, Pirlo was disillusioned by an injury-disrupted campaign at AC Milan. He sensed that he was no longer wanted by coach Massimiliano Allegri or influential chief executive Adriano Galliani. He knew that he needed to make a change, he knew that if he wanted to add to his 80 caps for Italy, he would need to find some form.
But Pirlo was turning 32 and many thought he was past his best. Luckily enough, in Turin, someone believed in his talent.
“We had put together a good young team and appointed Antonio Conte as coach, but we still needed something extra,” said Juventus’ chief executive Giuseppe Marotta during Euro 2012. “We wanted a player with a strong personality for the dressing room. Someone who had won many titles and could teach our younger players how to do the same and also how to react when things went against them. Who better than Andrea Pirlo?”
And Pirlo delivered with style. In his last season at San Siro, Pirlo scored only once and contributed to just three other goals. But at Juve, he topped the Serie A assists table, with 13, as Juve secured their first Scudetto in nine years and remained unbeaten that entire season in the league.
The change helped him. And sometimes, it also challenges the greats in different ways. The reason we are bringing this up — is because Virender Sehwag, like Pirlo, needs to change and he needs a challenge too.
In a recent interview to The Times of India, Sehwag said: “From my childhood days I always loved to play shots. I can never change my approach. When Chika compared me with Sir Viv, I thought he was joking, but gradually, after I made progress into the higher levels, all the people said the same thing about my batting. Then I realized that I have something special in my batting and if I have to make a mark as a cricketer, I will have to continue batting the way I do.”
Sehwag instinctively believes that change will be bad for him. But as Pirlo and many other sportstars have show, it’s not all that bad. Now change for Sehwag — could mean many things — it could mean batting down the order, it could mean a more steady approach, it could mean changing his fitness approach. And any one of them could have a positive impact on him.
Come 6 February, Sehwag takes the field as the captain of the Rest of India team. But even he will know that failure in the match might affect his chances of making the playing eleven for the Australia Tests.
Senior sports writer Ayaz Memon believes that if he was in Michael Clarke’s shoes then that choice has already been made for him.
“Clarke would surely want to not see Sehwag in the line-up. A hundred from him can make a huge difference to the mood of the team and it can win you a match. We saw him do that against England too,” said Ayaz.
But by no means is Sehwag’s place secure — the equation has changed, perhaps irrevocably so. And that is partly why he must embrace change, not fight it.