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Sehwag has embraced risk the way a seeker does his faith. Or maybe we have been looking at risk differently over the years. That is what the pioneers do; they question established thought. It is an approach that has worked exceptionally well with him and indeed, now defines him as a person. And yet, every few innings we moan over his choice of shots, we exhort him to be more judicious; we tear our hair out in frustration. We want bits of Sehwag, not the whole person, almost as if he were a roast chicken and we could choose the parts we wanted. We canít. With Sehwag, as with everyone else really, we buy into the whole person, into the package. If it isnít acceptable, we discard the package but we cannot pick and choose.
And so we want him to play that incredible fourth innings 83 against England at Chennai, in a very small shortlist of his best performances, but canít fathom his shot when India have to bat two days and a bit to save a Test match. We want it both ways; some days we want him to cut loose and gape at him and at others we want him to bat two days and scream at him if he doesnít. We cannot accept that fact that he is different, that if he is told not to get out he wonít score a run.
It would be an easy, if slightly boring, world if everyone could be the way we wanted them to be. ďSehwag, bat 2 days to save this Test, Manmohan Singh, erect statues of yourself in every city, Fardeen Khan, act!Ē Life would be a beautiful buffet but it isnít. If you are chasing a target Sehwag is your man, if you want someone to bat for your life, get Rahul Dravid. You need both. If we ask them to be different, we get a different person!
So too it is with Kevin Pietersen who is all aggression, all ego, all ďPietersen-centricĒ as the English media now refers to his view of the world. Why canít he be a bit different at times, they ask. A little more discreet maybe? A little more correct, a little more, what shall we say, acceptable? Appropriate? Effectively, we are asking, why canít he be a bit more like a Strauss sometimes? Doesnít Strauss come from South Africa as well? So then...?
The ego, the aggression, the latent lack of belonging and the consequent larger-than-life portrayal define Pietersen. That is how he is. He will play a breathtaking innings one moment and shoot his mouth off the next but that is the package we buy into.
As journalists, commentators, or just observers, we are often called upon to comment on peopleís performances. And very often, in our minds, we create this perfect entity; the dash of Sehwag, the composure of Tendulkar, the patience of Dravid, the dignity of Laxman, the elegance of Ganguly. Indeed we create God himself and arrayed against this epitome of perfection we search for shortcomings. Sehwag shouldnít have played that ball, Dravid should have stepped on it earlier, Laxman should have moved his feet more....
Maybe we should accept people for who they are, indeed for what they are; for the basket of skills they bring to the table and therefore, for the deficiencies that are a part of them. Like us, but on a wider screen maybe, they will succeed and they will fail. Because that is who they are!