Former swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag believes India coach Anil Kumble is the perfect man for the job but said his biggest challenge will be to lead India to victory over big teams such as England, Australia and South Africa in Tests.
“I think he is the perfect man to coach India. He has scored a Test hundred as well as picked 600 wickets in Test matches. He is the most positive person I have met; he never gives up and that is the reason why the young team can learn a lot from him,” he said.
On Anil Kumble’s biggest task, Sehwag said: “Biggest task is defeating sides like England, South Africa and Australia when they tour India and how he copes up with pressure when meeting tougher sides.
“England, at the moment, are playing their best cricket and hope India does well against them the way they did against South Africa, late last year.”
Asked if he will take up the job of a batting coach if offered, the 37-year-old from Delhi said he would not be able to as he does not have time and also because he does not think that Indian team needs a batting coach.
“No, I don’t have time. I don’t think the Indian team needs a batting coach since they have a lot of good batsmen. They need a bowling coach,” said Sehwag, who was here to participate in the launch of the logo of the Madurai Super Giants team, one of the franchise in TNPL.
Asked how to attract crowds to the longest format of the game, Sehwag, who had played 104 Tests, said, “I think crowd is less in India also, but since we have a better population when compared to West Indies, we have few thousands watching Test cricket.
“Also, Tests are not famous in West Indies as they were when big stars played for them during 70s and 80s. If big stars are involved in Test matches in West Indies, I think more people will come and watch the game. But their big stars are not playing.”
Asked if power or technique holds the key to shine in T20 cricket, Sehwag said: “Both are equally important. If you have power and use good technique, then you can score more runs. Virat Kohli is the perfect example and he is the combination of both.”
On Indian team having three opening batsmen for West Indies series, he said: “We always have three openers when we tour abroad. You need a competition like that, where all the three openers are among runs.
“It is good to have a challenge in your team, where the best performer will play. It is upto the captain and coach to decide who is the best performer.”
Asked whether TNPL’s success will match that of the IPL, Shewag said” “It should be, because the format is like that and it is also going to be telecast live. Entire country will be able to watch and I’d prefer Indian sports staff being involved in such leagues, because they will get the required experience to reach greater heights.”
On outstation players who were not allowed by BCCI to play in TNPL, Sehwag said: “It is Tamil Nadu Premier League, so players from TamilNadu must get an opportunity to play. If I play the TNPL, then one youngster from here (TamilNadu) will have to sit out. Players playing the district matches don’t get selected to play U-16, U-19, so now is their opportunity to shine.”
On youngsters taking on to batting more than bowling in T20 leagues and whether it would affect the game in the long run, Sehwag replied in the negative and said the league give opportunities to everyone and not batsmen alone.
“Not really, because we have seen bowlers who have made their careers through the IPL. (Ravichandran) Ashwin, (Jasprit) Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar are few names I can think of,” he said.
“So the leagues give opportunity to everybody and not just the batsmen. Maybe it gives such a feel because batsmen are seven and bowlers are four, but bowlers are also given an opportunity to showcase their talent.
“At the end of the day, performance matters and not if you are a batsman or a bowler. If you perform well, you’ll get through any team.”
On whether he sees a difference in youngsters’ approach nowadays, when compared to the time when he started playing, Shewag said: “Cricket is the same, but the thinking has changed. Nowadays in Tests, openers are playing over the covers or over slips or upper cuts and celebrating their centuries with sixes.
“It is a good thing that Test cricket has remained the same, but batsmen’s approach has changed with the advent of Twenty20 cricket. Now they take more risks to play Test matches.”