Virender Sehwag was a champion for Leicestershire, but how true was the story?
Virender Sehwag was a champion for Leicestershire, but how true was the story? © Getty Images

With Virender Sehwag announcing his retirement, several anecdotes have resurfaced in cyberspace. One of them involves Sehwag hitting Abdul Razzaq for six — a shot that landed outside the ground. The ball was lost, and as a result, Razzaq’s reverse-swing was hampered for some time. Abhishek Mukherjee checks the truth behind the story.

The story has been making rounds on the internet, but it is better I quote it verbatim from Shane Warne’s Century: My Top 100 Test Cricketers: “Jeremy Snape told me a great story about him [Sehwag] while we were working together in the Indian Premier League. Sehwag and Snape were batting for Leicestershire against Middlesex when Abdul Razzaq started reverse swinging the ball in the same way that the Pakistan bowlers do. Sehwag came up to Snape and said: ‘We must lose this ball. I have a plan.’ Next over, he whacked the ball clean out of the ground, forcing the umpires to pick another from the box that would obviously not reverse straight away. To which Sehwag said: ’We are alright for one hour.’ Smart, I say.”

It makes for an awesome anecdote, and is probably all over cyberspace by now. There are two questions, however:

1. Did it really happen?
2. If yes, when?

We get the following from Snape’s quote (technically Warne’s):

1. The match was between Leicestershire and Middlesex.
2. Sehwag and Snape were batting together.
3. Razzaq was bowling.

Did any match satisfy this criterion?

Sehwag played for Leicestershire only in 2003. He played 6 First-Class matches, all in County Championship. He also played 11 List A matches — 7 in National League, 3 in the Cheltenham and Gloucestershire Trophy, and 1 against the touring Pakistanis. There were also 6 T20 matches, all in the Twenty20 Cup that season.

In all, there were 23 matches, as per CricketArchive, the largest cricket database available on cyberspace. Of these, only two were against Middlesex, both in the County Championship — at Grace Road and Southgate. Razzaq did not feature in the first match, so it comes down to the Southgate match.

After Middlesex put up a humongous 620 for 7, Sehwag went about doing what he was best at: he slammed 130 in 111 balls with 20 fours and 4 sixes before being first out. He had added 190 with John Maunders.

While it was a blitz like any other, it also meant that Sehwag batted with nobody else in the innings barring Maunders. As for Snape, he emerged at the fall of the sixth wicket.

But wait, there was more: Leicestershire were bowled out for 447, and had to follow-on. Maunders fell first ball, and Sehwag was second out for a 24-ball 13. This time Snape batted at No. 7, which once again meant that Sehwag and Snape did not bat together. Before you ask, I have checked for any mentions of retired hurt.

This led me to think: What if Snape was wrong about the match? What if it was the 50-over encounter against the touring Pakistanis? Razzaq played the match…

Maunders and Sehwag had opened in the match at Grace Road. Once again Sehwag was first out, for a 28-ball 13. He did not hit a six, so he never hit a ball outside the ground. Snape emerged at No. 7…

No, this seems another tall tale. Or maybe it was not Razzaq. Or maybe it was not Snape out there. Or maybe the characters have changed as the story passed hands. Or maybe… I do not know what.

But it is certainly an anecdote worth a mention.


Update: The incident almost certainly took place at Southgate. Reporting for The Guardian, Jim Collis wrote from Southgate: “A six into the ice-cream van and a flurry of fours took Sehwag to his century, and he then hit the off-spinner James Dalrymple into Christ’s Church across the road. The replacement ball almost followed, and was then hooked to leave a bullet-hole mark in the club-house window.” But once again, he had batted only with Maunders.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor at CricketCountry and CricLife. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)