Virender Sehwag: An open ending, says Harsha Bhogle

In many ways, it was inevitable and yet, it hits you like one of his many shots over the years. Looked at coldly, devoid of emotion and without a look at the past, Virender Sehwag's omission was predictable. The runs had dried, the rope he had been given was long enough. But the realisation that the thrill within, as he walked out to bat, will be absent, creates a longing. Sehwag kept you on the edge of your seat, he made you look forward to the next moment. He was good for cricket and he was good for India and we don't know if he will play for India again. He's been a mighty cricketer and he will stroll easily into a room reserved for the greats of Indian cricket. Without a doubt.

But hang on, is this starting to look like a retirement tribute? There is a part of me that wishes it isn't and there is another that fears we may not see him again. There is much stacked against him. Over the next twenty four months India visit South Africa, New Zealand and England, against each of whom he averages under 30, and Australia where fifteen months ago he scored 198 in 8 innings. India play away more than they do at home in this period.

Of not inconsiderable importance is the fact that among the youngsters tried out in recent times, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar have all shown acceptable levels of promise and performance. Now, Murali Vijay has got a big hundred too. The temptation to look at a younger man has been rendered stronger.

His chances of being picked for Mohali and Delhi would have resided in the hope that India's selectors wouldn't want to change a winning combination. I have heard that thought expressed many times and quite frankly, have been baffled each time. It suggests that if the team is winning it should be happy to carry along those that are not good enough any more. No team should ever be picked on such a basis for in course of time, everyone will be entitled to be selected even if they aren't delivering. Sehwag had to be picked based on his performance and not on that of the rest.

... contd.

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