The term ‘Most Valuable Player’ or ‘MVP’ is generally a term that we associate with American sports. It can seem to give too much credence to an individual in a team sport, and as such not seem a natural fit with cricket. However, with the plethora of ICC lists of best cricketers of all time, or best cricketers in their given field of expertise, I thought it might be a good time to look at who are the five most valuable players across all three forms of international cricket right now.
Number 5: Virender Sehwag
Whether he is representing India in tests, ODI’s, T20’s or even opening for Delhi in the IPL, Virender Sehwag is a seriously dangerous customer. In fact, I would suggest that Viru is the player that stays true to his game the most, no matter the format.
In a way, Sehwag’s record in test matches is almost ridiculous given that the popular position on his play was always ‘he won’t be able to keep getting away with it’. Many thought he would go the way of Shahid Afridi, who occasionally pulled off a match-winning torch of an innings, but mostly crashed and burned. But not Viru. Quite improbably his test average of 52 has been scored at a strike rate of over 80. Put this together with 22 test centuries, more double centuries than any other Indian player in history, as well as two triple centuries, and you start to get an idea of just how damaging Sehwag is at test level. Of course, he plays less of it these days, but his record speaks for itself and certainly shows that he, more than any other, has been able to adapt an approach suited to limited over cricket to the test arena.
If you had to name one player who carried on the torch first lit by Sanath Jayasuria as an attacking opener in ODI cricket, it would have to be Sehwag. Across a career spanning more than 230 games, Sehwag has continually taken to attacks with vigour and has often put India into a strong position from which their incredible middle order can consolidate. Dean Jones recently rated Sehwag’s cover drive as the best he has seen and I’m sure many opposition bowlers would agree. It is a thing of beauty. He stands up so straight and just pushes his hands at the ball, which invariably ends up smacking the cover boundary. Sehwag’s 7700+ ODI runs have come at over a run a ball, and he has smashed 14 centuries across his career. Importantly, he has also contributed 92 wickets and has often provided his captains with an important option in the middle overs.
All that said there is no doubt that T20 cricket was made for Viru. Even though he can obviously perform unbelievably well in the longer forms, Sehwag’s blistering stroke play and handy off-spin are just perfect for T20 cricket. At a national level he averages nearly 28 with a strike rate of 160, with a century thrown in as well. For the Delhi Daredevils he improves that to an average of 29 with a strike rate of 170, oh, and another century! What is fantastic about his play at this level is that he doesn’t just slog the ball, he still plays magnificent strokes, but just with deadly power and precision.
The perfect player to start your innings in any form, Virender Sehwag is a supreme modern cricketer who rightfully earns his place in my list of the top 5 most valuable players in cricket right now.
Let me know what you think about Viru and whether you think he should have been higher or lower by making a comment below, and check back next week for number four on the list.
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