Little did former India coach John Wright know that a gamble that he and then skipper Sourav Ganguly took in 2002 would revolutionise Test cricket in the years to come.
On the eve of Virender Sehwag’s 100th Test, writing for ESPNCricinfo, Wright in a beautifully-worded tribute to the swashbuckling batsman recalls how he and Ganguly took a huge gamble by promoting Sehwag to open the innings against England at Lord’s.
After all, the Najafgarh lad was essaying his role at No 6 pretty well with a century on debut in South Africa and two fifties. But there were opening issues and the coach and captain decided to promote Sehwag up the order.
The sheer ease with which Sehwag adapted to the new challenge, says Wright is what makes him such a genius.
“If middle-order batsmen are asked to open the innings, they go into existential dilemmas, modify their game, work on technique. Many fail, a few cope.
“Viru was different; he had no such crisis. He opened in Tests the way he had batted in the middle order — still smashing it. He didn’t redefine his game because of his batting position. He redefined the position with his batting,” recalls Wright for ESPNCricinfo.
The New Zealander feels it is Sehwag’s instinct coupled with intrinsic fearlessness that helps him tear into any bowling attack.
Rating Sehwag a more exciting player to watch than Viv Richards, Wright says the Indian is such a natural that it’s better that the captain, batting partner or coach don’t complicate things for him. “It would ruin Virender Sehwag,” feels the former India coach.
Wright, who worked with Sehwag for his first 30-odd Tests, says what helped Sehwag “find his feet in cricket and stay grounded was that he accepted his fate” and that if he got out he wouldn’t brood over it. Instead, he would start afresh for the next innings.
To elaborate more on how Sehwag accepted his fate, Wright recounts an incident when they were flying into Melbourne in a storm. For that and more read the article in its entirety here.