Qaiser Mohammad Ali
It now turns out that Virender Sehwag’s recent announcement to quit Delhi and switch to Haryana was not taken in a hurry.
A couple of issues had reportedly been brewing in the mind of the swashbuckling batsman for some time, and his rather below-par run with the bat in the last domestic season, including the IPL, probably added to finality of his decision to leave Delhi.
According to well-placed sources in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), the body former India ODI captain, Sehwag, represented throughout his career, the 36-year-old opening batsman was peeved at the “treatment” meted out to him, both on and off the field.
And when Sehwag, the only Indian to score a Test triple century, that too twice over, apparently tried approaching the ‘super boss’, as a source chose to describe him, possibly to discuss the issues rankling him, only disappointment came his way. No audience was granted to Sehwag. That was the proverbial last straw.
Soon, he finally made up his mind to leave Delhi – something that he had threatened to do six years ago in an exclusive interview with this writer.
Although Sehwag had stayed back in August 2009, after the then DDCA president, Arun Jaitley, assured him that he would ensure that his complaints of corruption in selection of teams were addressed, things have since gone from bad to worse at the Ferozeshah Kotla.
On August 22, in a statement by the Haryana Cricket Association (HCA) issued to announce Sehwag’s switching of allegiance, the master batsman chose his words carefully, and was even diplomatic.
“I would like to thank the DDCA for their support to me over the years and would particularly like to thank Mr Arun Jaitley, who in his erstwhile role as the president of DDCA, guided and supported all the players and particularly me,” he said while expressing his wish to score prolifically for Haryana and guide its youngsters.
However, the real reasons behind Sehwag’s quitting Delhi appears to be different. First, he didn’t have a great season (including the IPL) by his own standards. Then, disclosed a source, that Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, best of pals earlier, didn’t share a great rapport on the field during the season gone by.
“Although Sehwag scored 600 runs in first-class matches last season for Delhi, he was not his usual self with the bat. He needed to score many more runs to rekindle the hope of a comeback to the Indian team,” the source told jantakareporter.com.
“Then, the vibes between him and Gambhir, the Delhi captain, were not all that good during the last domestic season. Sehwag’s ability as a fielder was also questioned, and this seems to have annoyed him further. This led to a friction between the two great players and communication between them became bare minimum. The usual camaraderie between them was certainly missing,” he informed.
It is well known that Sehwag has never been a brilliant fielder, but a very safe one. His well-timed jumps to pluck catches in the outfield have been breath-taking. One catch that he took near the boundary line in the Netherlands a few years ago was one such gem.
The third reason being cited by the sources is that Sehwag was utterly disappointed on having elicited any response from a former top DDCA official whom he had called a couple of times.
“Sehwag called up the ‘super boss’ a few times, probably to discuss some contentious issues. But he apparently never got through the line as no one picked up the receiver at the other end. This seems to have further disillusioned him, and perhaps acted as the last straw. Soon, he made up his mind to quit Delhi,” explained the source, a DDCA insider.
Another reason is that Sehwag owes a debt to Haryana, the state he originally belongs to. The previous Congress government of Bhupinder Singh Hooda gave him land in Jhajjar to establish his Sehwag International School, which has so far hosted 13 matches of BCCI’s junior tournaments.
All in all, DDCA has not been fair to arguably the greatest cricketer to have represented Delhi in its 79-year existence, with due respect to the other greats who excelled at the international level.
This is evident from the deafening silence that the DDCA bosses maintained at Sehwag’s departure, leave alone a farewell party.
Even earlier, promises made to Sehwag were not fulfilled. In November 2012, DDCA executive committee passed a proposal to present 100 gold coins to him for playing 100 Test matches. That promises remained, and died, on paper. The original proposal was to present him with a Rs. 1 crore cheque, but that was trashed in favour of 100 gold coins that would have cost a little over Rs 50 lakh at the time.
For the same occasion, of Sehwag’s 100th Test, the DDCA had also announced that one of the gates of the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium would be named after the batsman. But that promise too was buried alive. And now the probability is that these promises would never be fulfilled, since Sehwag had bid adieu to the DDCA.
A little earlier, the promises that Jaitley had made to Sehwag – to get rid of corruption in selection of teams in the DDCA being the prominent one – turned out to be hollow ones as corruption, by all accounts, has only gone deeper into the foundations of the Kotla, which houses the DDCA. The issue has now reached Parliament, thanks to the relentless pursuance by Kirti Azad, a former Delhi captain.