Yesterday was a very off-kilter day; a weird day, not a great day. 80mph winds; another shooting at Virginia Tech; the world economy continuing to circle the drain in ever-decreasing circles; a murder-suicide involving a family of five in a small town near where I live.
If seven years in the funeral business has taught me anything, it is that life is mostly random and bad stuff can and will happen – often repeatedly, sometimes all at the same time. Misfortune is rarely a lone traveller and we like to think we control our own destines, when we are really just monkeys masquerading as organ grinders.
So watching Virender Sehwag imposing his will on everything around him at Indore on his way to becoming only the second man to score an ODI double ton felt, ironically, like a haven in a storm.
Sure, Sachin was the first, and one could argue at length whose was the greater innings, although being the first to break that psychological barrier when few dared contemplate the possibility will always remain an astonishing achievement.
Sehwag may have joined the Little Master by way of a flat deck against West Indian bowling on a ground with small boundaries. He may have had a bit of luck when he was dropped on 170 by Darren Sammy. And if you want to be statistically picky about it, Belinda Clark holds the record in a limited overs international with 229* for Australia against Denmark in the 1997 World Cup.
But when Virender Sehwag is in form there is no sight quite like it.
He may be an old dog, in terms of an international career that’s been going for 12 years, but one with no need of new tricks: see ball, hit ball, repeat again – further, faster, longer, harder. His 15th ODI hundred may have come from 69 balls, but as far as the West Indies were concerned the pleasure was all one way. By the time he was caught in the deep by substitute fielder Anthony Martin for 219 – ending a knock that included 25 fours and 7 sixes – he was seeing it like Sputnik.
It’s been a quiet series for Viru up until now. But when record books are rewritten, previous failures cease to matter quite as much. The wonderful thing about history-making knocks like this is that they are elevated to a level where extraneous factors such as the quality of the bowling, or the wicket, or whether or not you even give a fuck about ODIs anyway, become, for that moment, irrelevant. Only their greatness matters. It is the perfect distillation of excellence; the purity of achievement. When Virender Sehwag hits the ball as cleanly as he did yesterday, the planets realign, Armageddon is put on hold, the pale horse of the Apocalypse pulls up lame and the Pequod makes it back to port. And, more importantly, it gives us all something to smile about in these fractious times.