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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014
Crucifixion of Sehwag a sign of the times
Pradeep Magazine, Hindustan Times
June 13, 2009
First Published: 02:28 IST(13/6/2009)
Last Updated: 03:17 IST(13/6/2009)

It is a muscle tear which seems to have torn asunder India’s cricketing world and created a media storm bigger than the T20 World Cup itself.

Virender Sehwag’s shoulder injury and his subsequent withdrawal from the team has made sleuths out of ordinary men and the world’s most destructive batsman has all of a sudden become a reviled man in India.

Did he hide his injury? Has he created a division in the team? These and many other questions have been raised in righteous indignation and our mob mentality has found a victim and has nailed him to the wall.

To lend the whole drama a theatrical touch has been Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s holier than thou attitude, where he parades the entire team and even the support staff in front of the media to prove that all is well with his world. He even has a skirmish with a TV reporter but such is his clout, power and popularity that no one dares to criticise him.

In the end, Sehwag has to not just contend with the fact that he may not be able to play cricket for a few months, but also deal with a very hostile media.

In this world of black and white there are no shades of grey to be seen anywhere, especially when it involves the players.

I am not sure whether Sehwag did hide his injury or not. Nor am I sure whether he caused a rift in the team. I, like everyone else, knew that Sehwag was injured before the World Cup began, as that was the reason for his missing the warm-up matches. And any captain would go to any length to ensure that a player of Sehwag’s ability plays, even if it means waiting for longer than normal for his injury to heal. Players like Sehwag are central to a team’s strategy and their absence can lead to disaster.

That he is out of the World Cup is sad for the team as well for the fans, whichever world one belongs to and whichever conspiracy theory one agrees to.

If one goes into these blame games, then the first target should be the support staff, who train the players, treat them and even detect injuries. And what about the Board itself, which chalks up non-stop playing schedules, where a cricketer has to be on the road for what seems forever.

India should consider themselves fortunate that the gruelling IPL schedule, coming as it did on the heels of the tour to New Zealand, has resulted in a serious injury to only one key player. No one would have been surprised had there been many more victims.

Even if we agree that Sehwag may have been underplaying his injury — in the hope that he could play the World Cup -is it still such a crime as is being made out to be?

I know for a fact that some of the more sensational TV channels have told their anchors and reporters that they should treat cricket stories like they do crime stories. To do so, it needs a victim a day and unfortunately for Sehwag, it was his turn last week.


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