In January 1956, Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy – a makeshift opening pair – put on a world record 413 runs for the first wicket against New Zealand at Chennai. It was a record that stood for 52 years before it was finally broken by Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie against Bangladesh at Chittagong in 2008.
But the record might never have happened. A few weeks before the start of the series against New Zealand, Roy discovered that he was short-sighted -- he had minus one power.
“That was an interesting season, 1955-56. I'd discovered, some weeks before the New Zealanders came, that I was shortsighted: my optometrist friend convinced me wearing spectacles could help. When I got to Hyderabad for the first Test everybody was shocked - Roy the opener had put on glasses!” Roy told Mihir Bose in ‘The History of Indian cricket.’
Bose further quoted Roy as saying, “(Even then) I did not want to wear spectacles. I feared that if I was hit I would go blind as the glass would enter my eyes. The doctor asked me how many times I had been hit in the face. I said, never. So, he said, if you have never been hit, why worry. Take the glasses and if it works well and good. The glasses were a revelation.”
And so was Roy, who contributed 173 runs to the 413-run partnership in 472 minutes. Mankad’s contribution was 231.
Of course, the reason we are talking about this is simply because Virender Sehwag has been spotted wearing spectacles during the Indian team’s training camp at Bangalore as well. And it just might be the push he needs to be back at his best.
Sehwag had been complaining of a mild headache for the past few days, has been reportedly advised by his doctor to use the 0.25 power corrective lenses in order to overcome the problem.
Sehwag’s coach AN Sharma informed MID-DAY that the dashing opener batted with spectacles in the nets back home in Delhi before heading to Mumbai for the Irani Cup which he eventually did not figure in due to a stomach ailment.
“He has a minor number. He was fine in the nets,” Sharma said.
There have been several other regular wearers of glasses -- Clive Lloyd, Zaheer Abbas, the New Zealanders Daniel Vettori and Walter Hadlee. Even Anil Kumble began his career wearing glasses before shifting to contact lenses towards the end. So glasses might be just the thing that Sehwag needs to resurrect his career.
But the difficulty for Sehwag, as it was for Roy initially, will be getting used to the glasses. Indeed, the question everyone is asking is whether Sehwag will wear the glasses during the Test as well.
The right-hander has always been an instinctive batsman who relied on his phenomenal hand-eye co-ordination to dominate the best bowlers of his generation. If this tiny change can help him get back to his best then Sehwag wouldn’t mind sporting the ‘geeky’ look for a while.
Pankaj Roy got his 173 at Chennai – the venue for the first Test against Australia and India on February 22 and Sehwag will hope he can follow in his footsteps. It also does help that Sehwag record at Chennai is pretty stunning as well – 5 matches, 708 runs at an average of 101.14 – and Australia’s attack isn’t one that will have him quaking in his boots either.
All in all, India will have their fingers crossed and hope that one way or the other, Sehwag starts firing again.