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Oz crowds looking forward to flashing bat of 'Buccaneer' Sehwag

December 23, 2011 - Melbourne

Indian opener Virender Sehwag may have unexpectedly got a well-deserved compliment from the hulking Matthew Hayden during Australia's 2004 tour of India, but now his flashing broadsword is what Australian crowds will be looking forward to in the ensuing four-match Test series.

Sehwag is the most under-rated player of his generation, but by the time he is finished, he may be regarded as the greatest opening batsman of all time, reports the Herald Sun.

Consider these facts. Sehwag has been playing Test cricket for a decade and averages an exceptional 52.16 in his 92 Tests.

That alone is impressive enough but his killer credential is his strike rate.

He scores at the astonishing rate of 82 runs per hundred balls, a clip so swift he makes renowned dashers Ian Botham (60.71), Chris Gayle (59.1) and Andrew Flintoff (62.04) look batting barnacles by comparison.

In racing parlance, Sehwag is a greyhound and a Melbourne Cup winner rolled into one quirky package - a sprinter and a stayer.

He can score hurricane 50s, but he also has four double centuries and two triple centuries in Test cricket, a feat matched only by Don Bradman and Brian Lara.

When he once asked a West Australian coach to help him with a batting session in Perth it lasted for five hours because that was how long Sehwag intended to bat for.

Sehwag plays the game on his terms. Domination is his game. Occupation without domination does not interest him at all.

"He was a guy I really warmed to, a likeable scallywag but his problem was he never had to work at his talent," former Indian coach Greg Chappell wrote of Sehwag in his book Fierce Focus.

"We had conversations where I asked him what motivated him. Really there was nothing. He just loved making runs on his terms. If he couldn't get them the way he wanted, he probably wasn't going to.

"He was good enough that he could get runs when he absolutely needed them. A little more suffering might have helped him," adds Chappell.

When Sehwag was voted to open the innings with fellow Indian Sunil Gavaskar in the International Cricket Council's greatest Test team of all time this year, many sensed his selection was the result of the natural bias of the on line voting system that drew more than 250,000 responses.

Most of the votes came from India, many from youngsters too young to remember or care about English great Jack Hobbs and his 199 first class centuries.

Hobbs' greatest admirers are long gone and the ones still kicking probably think a giant spider spun the World Wide Web.

But Sehwag's selection should not be scoffed at and by the end of his career may be beyond dispute.

He is, by some margin, the most destructive opening batsman the game has seen and since statisticians started recording strike rates in the 1970s.

Only Pakistan's Shahid Afridi has scored quicker than Sehwag among regular Test match batsmen.


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