After spending a week in Munich to fix his injury, Virender Sehwag is back. It was freezing, he said, and there was little to do except see the doctor, but I am better and will start practice in a few days.
A fit and upbeat Sehwag is crucial for India's World Cup campaign. Always on the front foot, in attitude as much as technique, bowlers fear him because Sehwag knows no fear. Kapil Dev paid Sehwag the ultimate tribute when he said instead of trying to get him out, bowlers are praying to avoid punishment and hoping Sehwag dismisses himself!
Not long ago, cricketers thought Viv Richards was the most merciless destroyer, the last word in power-hitting. Now the master has himself declared, in what is another huge compliment, that he is a Sehwag fan and would happily pay to watch him bat. Richards and Sehwag are both impact players and though alike in a sense, their styles are vastly different. Richards was brutal and arrogant, Sehwag, relatively gentle, does not glare menacingly at bowlers after smashing them through cover or slicing a cut over point.
Surprisingly, for a batsman whose DNA is constructed solely on aggression, Sehwag is spectacularly cool. On a cricket field he is serene like Rahul Dravid, no less composed than MS Dhoni. There is no drama about him, he does not confront an umpire to demand a favourable decision, nor is he known to sledge opponents. Sehwag just gets on with his business in a professional manner.
Such calm demeanour comes from supreme self-confidence. Sehwag backs himself in all situations and is aware, and secure, about his talent. Much has been said about his uncomplicated batting but what is often missed is he is exceedingly savvy about his craft and has the priceless gift of separating the essential from the peripheral.
Some experts take a dim view of Sehwag's limited foot movement and criticize his dangerous batting style. But the argument against this is footwork is not an end in itself, what matters is where the balls ends up. To those who talk about risky batting the answer is equally simple: Sehwag's Test average is almost as high as Sachin's. Perhaps, with some caution, these numbers could have been better but Sehwag will not entertain any thought of changing what works for him. Nor does he for a moment regret missing out occasionally. At present, he is focussed on the World Cup.