The Ghosts That Haunt Rohit Sharma’s Red-Ball Game
The red ball has been a challenge Rohit Sharma would like to conquer in this tour of Australia.
The red ball has been a challenge Rohit Sharma would like to conquer in this tour of Australia.(Photo: The Quint)

The Ghosts That Haunt Rohit Sharma’s Red-Ball Game

India’s ongoing tour to Australia comes after a thrilling T20 Series, that ended in a 1-1 deadlock. But that was just the teaser.

The real action will begin on the 6 December, when India takes on the Australian Test team, minus David Warner and Steve Smith – two of the most influential batsmen on the world stage, and definitely the best players in the current the Australian cricket set up.

Since the ball-tampering incident at Newlands in March, Australian cricket has gone through turmoil, and everyone is hoping for India to make history this time around, and rightly so.

Like any other story though, this one too, will involve a lot of subplots – just like Rohit Sharma’s comeback in Test Cricket. This Mumbai stalwart is a modern icon, but the red ball has been a challenge that Rohit would like to conquer.

Rohit Sharma has all the attributes needed to be a good Test player, but somehow it just hasn’t worked for him.
Rohit Sharma has all the attributes needed to be a good Test player, but somehow it just hasn’t worked for him.
(Photo: The Quint)

It is a little bemusing as to why a batsman of Rohit’s class and ability hasn’t been able to stamp his authority on the longest format of the game. He has all the attributes needed to be a good Test player, but somehow it just hasn’t worked for him.

The primary difference in everyone’s approach is that in the shorter format, we expect Rohit to succeed, but when it comes to Test cricket, everyone expects Rohit to fail.

Former Indian cricketer Praveen Kumar once said, “India main cricketer se jayada uske hawa chalti hai.” (In India, it is not a cricketer’s performance, but his fame that matters.) Kumar is spot on, when he feels that perception plays a huge role in Indian cricket. Rohit, the Test batsman, is the victim of the same perception game. Somewhere down the line, everyone seems to feel that he doesn’t have it in him. The chances given to him are scattered and every time he plays the red ball, one thinks that he has to prove something.

This doesn’t allow Rohit Sharma to play his natural game.

He is caught between the two mindsets – to back his attacking game and play the ball on its merit or to discover a solid defensive game and conquer the demons of Test cricket.

Critics play their part too. India lost the Test series against South Africa earlier this year. Barring Virat Kohli, none of the other batsmen could leave a mark, but it was Rohit’s inclusion that was debated the most. His technique was dissected the most and, in the end, he wasn’t there when India played their next Test match, against England in the summer, despite being the only Indian to score a century in the T20 and the ODI series that preceded it.

Indian cricket needs a Rohit, who is confident, secure and in a happy state of mind. 
Indian cricket needs a Rohit, who is confident, secure and in a happy state of mind. 
(Photo: AP)

Indian Cricket Needs Rohit

Rohit enters this tour in a perfect frame of mind and needs to carry this positivity around him all the time. In 2017, whenever he got a chance, Rohit performed exceedingly well – not only as a batsman but also as a leader.

People can say whatever they want to, about his technique and temperament, but I am sure he doesn’t believe in any of that and more importantly shouldn’t care about what others think of him as a Test cricketer. If the copybook technique was the only way to flourish in Test cricket, then a certain Virender Sehwag shouldn’t have played hundred Test matches for India.

After Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma is one of the best players of this era. Time and again he has proven his maturity and leadership skills. The Indian side is still looking for stability and core in their batting order. Along with Virat and Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit has all the qualities to share this burden.

Indian cricket needs a Rohit who is confident, secure and in a happy state of mind.  Everyone needs to be patient around him and give him some time and space to exhibit his magic in Test cricket. There would be no greater joy than to see the ‘hitman’ striking all the right notes on this tour.

(Nishant Arora is an award-winning cricket journalist, and most recently, the media manager of the Indian Cricket Team. He also co-authored the best-selling book on Yuvraj Singh’s battle with cancer.)

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