‘See ball-hit-ball’ was too simplistic and perhaps even a lazy explanation to decode the phenomenon of Virender Sehwag as a batsman. Time and again, through the course of his 14-year international career, he elevated this process into an intricate art form. Much of his success could be attributed to superb hand-eye coordination.
Nevertheless, such a technique was fraught with inherent pitfalls, primarily because of his limited footwork.
As Sehwag made the seamless progression from age-group cricket to eventually cementing his status as one of the most destructive openers in international cricket, coaches and seniors would keep reminding him about that one particular flaw in his game.
“There were many experts and cricketers in my early years of international cricket who used to point out my lack of foot movement, but none had any plausible suggestions to rectify it,” the 42-year-old reminisced during the launch of Cricuru, an experiential learning app aimed at redefining cricket coaching in the country.
After spending considerable time trying to alter what he perceived as a fundamental weakness in his batting, interactions with three former India players – namely Tiger Pataudi, Sunil Gavaskar and Kris Srikkanth helped him allay his fears.
“They told me that rather than thinking about my footwork, I should start batting on middle or off-stump instead of taking my stance on leg stump. That helped me come closer to the ball. It improved my game, and credit goes to them,” Sehwag recollected.
According to the former opener, it was this singular piece of advice that helped him flay attacks from all corners of the globe, and stack up over 8,000 Test runs. This invaluable piece of nugget would also help one understand the role coaches and seniors play during the formative years of budding international cricketers.
Similar case study
During the course of the virtual media interaction, discussion veered towards Prithvi Shaw – a supremely- talented youngster who, despite his blazing knocks in the 2021 Indian Premier League, finds himself out of favour in long-form cricket.
Like Sehwag, Shaw is also blessed with fast hands. However, in recent times, he has had the tendency to play too far away from the body and stay rooted to his crease. What compounded his woes was his propensity to stay outside the leg stump in an attempt to unfurl his trademark exaggerated bat swing. Resultantly, it left a huge gap between bat and pad, which made Shaw a sitting duck against the moving ball.
Sehwag offered a simple advice to Shaw, something that had worked for him during his playing days. “Suno sabki, karo apni… take advice from everyone, but do only what suits your game.”
More than six years after his international retirement, Sehwag has now teamed up with Sanjay Bangar, his good friend and former batting coach of the Indian team, in a new venture.
It’s an Artificial Intelligence-enabled mobile-web-based application called Cricuru, specifically designed to help youngsters pick up the finer nuances of the game through masterclasses from greats such as AB de Villiers, Brett Lee, Brian Lara and Jonty Rhodes.
“The vision behind Cricuru is to offer access to cricket coaching for people living anywhere across the country, even Tier 2 and 3 cities, which can be easily accessed from the comfort of your homes. With smartphone and internet penetration on the rise, this just makes it more accessible for aspiring cricket enthusiasts,” Bangar explained.