How to tune into Virender Sehwag s unique and incredible psyche

You can t see that shot in the coaching manuals, but you can t see such a player in the world. That s Virender Sehwag in a brilliant world of his own! © Getty Images

The ‘Brotherhood of Butchers’ has an unwritten code: “Never give an impression of enjoying your work. When armed with the cleaver, stay as expressionless as a stone and as detached as a Buddhist. Avoid whistling, singing and cracking jokes as it may delude people into concluding that you’re a sadist.”


The Butcher of Nazafgarh, never reputed for observing any niceties, is a serial violator of this code. On many an occasion, he’s been caught on camera, humming a cheerful tune or two while murdering a bowler in broad daylight.


Now this anomalous behaviour may sound like the cold, callous act of Lt. Col. Kilgore, who insisted on playing Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ before bombing a Vietnamese village. The fact of the matter is Virender Sehwag is no basket case. He’s just a simple bloke who believes in the power of Hindi songs to empty his mind while facing a bowler.


To quote Sehwag verbatim: “I try to hum Kishore Kumar songs especially those pictured on Amitabh Bachchan, till the bowler is about to deliver. I try to sing songs as perfectly as possible in order to keep my mind completely uncluttered.”


The key word to note is ‘uncluttered’. Sehwag’s listless performance in recent times (Average of 25.91 in the recent Australia test series and 10.25 in England) is a clear result of the many issues that have been weighing him down. Which is probably why, it might be a good idea for the swashbuckler to check into a Bollywood rehab to vacuum clean his head to remove all the cobwebs of the past.


If the ‘punishing schedule’ of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) won’t grant him the luxury of time for such indulgences, I have a better solution. Maybe he should just listen to the following chartbusters on his iPod for initiating the song therapy:



1. Kuch toh log kahenge. Logon ka kaam hai kehna.


Anand Bakshi’s immortal line from the ‘Amar Prem’ gaana of the same name contains a little message for India’s first and only triple centurion. The message is unambiguously simple: Never ever listen to the critic and change your batting style. Remember, a bazooka can only fire like a bazooka, even if it gets rusty.



2. Tanha tanha yahaan pe jeena, ye koi baat hai?


When Mehboob wrote his scene stealer for the movie ‘Rangeela’, little did he realise that there could be a cryptic piece of advice embedded in it for Sehwag. ‘Why stay aloof from the coach and the captain instead of being a team player who enjoys the collective successes and failure of the unit?’ Seems to be the question the song is posing to Viru.



3. Ye duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai.


A little Guru Dutt never hurt anyone. On the contrary, it forces the listener to get a bit more philosophical and ruminate on the things that are preponderant in life. From Sehwag’s point of view, captaincy has been the proverbial albatross around his neck. It has never earned him glory. Probably, never will. Like Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag has to give it one hard thought and get over the adolescent infatuation to lead the Indian team. That way, Mahendra Singh Dhoni would feel a lot more secure and Sehwag can dedicate himself to demolishing the bowlers.



4. Jo vaada kiya voh nibhaana padega.


Every team has a set plan before the start of the game and a fluid plan that develops as the match unfolds. Every player is privy to these plans. Everyone knows their exact role and is expected to give their very best till the last ball. The thing to remember is: the ‘role’ varies from match to match. We are all aware that irrespective of the role assigned to him, Sehwag plays only like Sehwag. The team management is willing to give Sehwag a long rope. All they want in exchange is a commitment to curb the riskiest strokes for a few overs. That’s the simple plan. The Mohammad Rafi number from the film Taj Mahal is a timely reminder to stand by that promise.



5. Thoda hai thode ki zaroorat hai.


Patience is a virtue that has eluded our man. Of the 167 Test innings played, Sehwag has got out to a rash stroke at least 25% of the time. That’s a hell a lot of opportunities wasted. Gulzar saab’s classic song is a fervent appeal to the soul to discover the power of a little forbearance.



6. Bach ke rehna re baba, tujh pe nazar hai.


By ‘resting’ Sehwag for his indiscretions on and off the field, the selectors have sent him a stern warning. IPL5 offers a chance to redeem the situation. All eyes are on the ‘Sultan of Multan’. Now is the time to prove his credentials as a match winner and captain. The Kishore Kumar song from ‘Pukar’ reinforces this need to be alert, lest there be a slip up in standards.



7. Tu cheez badi hai mast mast. Tu cheez badi hai mast.


Just in case the above play list gets a trifle weighty, I’ve added this uplifting item number from ‘Mohra’ to remind Sehwag of what the world thinks of him. So all he needs to do is to chill, believe and have fun in IPL.



8. Abhi na jao chod ke, ye dil abhi bhara nahin.


The ‘Young’ vs ‘Old’ debate and all the retirement talk around may actually get to an impetuous man like Sehwag especially if he fails in IPL5. In such moments of doubt, it’s best to listen to what Dev Anand crooned to Sadhna in ‘Hum Dono’. The opening line, ‘Don’t leave us now for our heart yearns for more,’ captures the unvoiced sentiment of the diehard Viru fan.


The sports psychologist working with the Men in Blue would do well to deploy these Hindi film songs to communicate with Sehwag. I am of the view that it will work like magic. And when it does, don’t be surprised if you see the ominous image of Sehwag belting out the dreaded ‘Maar daala’ song from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Devdas’! 


(Anantha Narayan is an accomplished scholar from the University of Timepass. After squandering his life away in mining engineering, sales, advertising, naming, blogging and other things mundane, he found peace sitting on an arm chair with a laptop for company. Perhaps the most vocal Delhi Daredevil supporter in Chennai, he hopes to hang his boots, the day they win the IPL.)