‘Need players like Sehwag in Tests’

Doffing his hat to his former Delhi Daredevils captain Virender Sehwag and his century in the ongoing first Test, former England batsman Paul Collingwood says that Test match cricket, facing many challenges to remain relevant in the modern era, badly needs players like the swashbuckling batsman.

“ Sehwag is world class. Test cricket needs a player like that. He was, kind of, moving towards the IPL, T20 cricket, ODIs because of the excitement value. Cricket needs players like that; it needs innings like what he played here,” Collingwood told M AIL T ODAY . “ You are not going to get consistency from players like that because they are an X- Factor. You watched that innings for three hours; it was pure entertainment,” said the man who still hasn’t announced retirement from limited- overs cricket.

Pointing out the ruthless manner in which Sehwag destroys bowling attacks, Collingwood said: “ A bowler can be three inches off line and you know it’s going for four. That’s how good a player he is. He’s right there on top. In Indian conditions, ask anyone who’s the one you wouldn’t want to bowl at, and they would probably say Virender Sehwag.” The 36- year- old Collingwood, here as a television commentator, called the ongoing four- Test rubber a “ grudge series” after India’s 0- 4 defeat in England last year, and said if the visitors manage to draw it, it would be an achievement.

“ It’s a grudge series because you’ve got two very, very good sides.

We also know what happened in England last year, and I’m sure India would want revenge because of that, because it hurt them. And we all know that it hit them hard,” he said candidly.

“ We know that these are completely different conditions from England. So, this is one of the biggest challenges you’ll confront in the games. You’ll face the heat, and pace bowlers will bowl on slow wickets, and batsmen will face spin bowling,” he said. “ It’s going to be tough, we all know that. If England can come out with a draw in the series... you just never know what can happen.” Asked about the probable final scoreline in the series, Collingwood said: “ Look, I am being biased – a 1- 1 drawn series. That’s going to be very difficult [ for England]. But you never know. There are four Tests and you don’t know how the wickets are going to be. Last series [ in India in 2008], we weren’t expected to get anything here but we drew 1- 1.” Collingwood, who captained England to their lone ICC trophy — the World Twenty20 in 2010 — and has played in Twenty20 leagues in England, India, Australia, and South Africa, endorsed that format. “ I always see anything that brings money into the game as doing something good to the game. What I mean is that kids aspiring to be professionals can graduate from there,” he said.

While admitting that he misses representing England – “... but I’ve no regrets” — Collingwood said eventually he would like to turn to coaching.

“ At the moment, I am enjoying commentating more than I thought I would. But after a couple of years of county cricket, I want to go into coaching,” he said.


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