The game of cricket has different types of batsmen – some are free-flowing stroke players, some are big hitters, some are defensive players, some are run accumulators and so on. Among all the categories I have mentioned, fans love to see free flowing stroke players. Even among the stroke players, we tend to like and follow those who execute those strokes in a crafty manner, mixed with style and elegance and very few batsmen in the world possess such skills. Such strokes when watched even in replays are enthralling. Even if such players hit three or four consecutive sixes in an over, the bowler or even the fielding team will not think they are being mercilessly treated, when compared to the same sort of treatment if meted out to them by players such as Gayle or Jayasuriya.
When Gayle or Jayasuriya smash the bowlers to all corners of the park, the pitiable state of the fielding team cannot be described in words as they are not only going for runs but at the same time they are also dealt with a sort of high handedness by the batsmen. If such type of batting can be called as a rock music, then the exhibition of batting which we saw from Rohit Sharma yesterday in the match between Mumbai Indians and the Knight Riders can be termed as “Symphony”.
I mean Gayle has also scored a T20 hundred and in fact, more than a couple of them. But the difference between his hundreds and the one which was scored by Sharma yesterday lies in the elegance and it was evident in his innings yesterday. We can take an example of what an opponent of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal experiences. When a player is beaten by Rafa, it would look as though he is badly victimized by bruises and cuts at the end of the match. But, when Federer beats an opponent, he may not feel bruises and cuts as he would admire the artistry and elegance of the shots executed.
The Knight Riders were treated to a class innings by Rohit Sharma yesterday – 109 runs in 60 balls. No one from KKR would have felt they were demolished by him even when the runs were starting to flow from his bat. So good was his shot making that each and every one of those shots should be recorded and kept as an epitome of grace. There are a few shots from certain players which we like to see over and over again, because of the excellence attached to them; Sachin’s straight drive, an on drive from Dravid and a cover drive from Brian Lara are a few worth mentioning. But if one has to stand and admire the same way every shot from a single batsman then, among the contemporaries of the modern day cricket, Rohit Sharma is definitely one of them. It is a fact and everyone who has seen Rohit’s batting in this year’s IPL especially, cannot deny it.Even Cameroon White had said in an interview a few days back that Rohit is arguably one of the best players in the world and you would have also noted Herschelle Gibbs saying that Rohit is technically sound as a player and in fact better equipped than Virat Kohli. Likewise more such eulogies will start to pour in if Rohit continues to play this way.
One of the memorable shots played by Sachin which keeps coming back to our minds,is the straight six which he hit off Kasprowicz in Sharjah thirteen years ago. A real carbon copy of that shot, was played by Rohit yesterday when Brett Lee came for his second spell. Out of nowhere, the bowler was greeted to a stylish six over deep long on which left the entire stadium stunned in excitement. Whatever shots he played yesterday were so graceful to see and none of them could be termed as a slog in any of the three formats of the game. No slogging or cheeky shots in the quick fire century indicates how good a player he is.
There have been only a very few players who were able to combine style and grace with the wide range of shots they possess. We have seen the likes of David Gower, Mark Waugh, Mohammed Azharuddin, Brian Lara, Rahul Dravid etc. who were highly regarded for the stylish shots in their repertoire. This pedigree, it seems, has a new name added to it – Rohit Sharma.
However, he is yet to wear a Test cap and is it not a shame? I always have felt he deserved a slot in Tests for so long. He is already 25 years old and I cannot believe that his place even in the ODIs has not been made permanent, leave alone him being allowed to figure in Test cricket. Cameron White was right when he said, he was surprised not to see him playing in all the three formats of the game for India.
Similarly, many commentators and experts of the game have been repeatedly emphasizing on how talented this guy is but yet we are not seeing him in the playing XI of Test matches. Sunil Gavaskar debuted for the team when he was just 21 and everyone knows how young Sachin Tendulkar was when he played his first Test. But, it is disheartening to see a batsman who has the potential to achieve something extraordinary in cricket and someone who can match both Sachin and Sunil is denied of a Test cap up until now.
There are bound to be failures which could greet him while he plays his first few matches of international cricket. But, considering it as his weakness if he was not given proper treatment by the selectors of BCCI, then they are really denying a batsman who can rewrite many of the cricketing records. This was what happened to him in ODIs and if only he was given an extended run albeit a few failures in ODIs, the potential of his would have been completely recognised.
I feel that if the selectors have to drop a couple of seniors in order to discover the future for India let them go ahead and do it. It is not too late as of now as Rohit Sharma is such a gifted player that he would be able to earn a name for himself in tests very soon when given a chance to play. So, it is high time that selectors somehow devise a way of naming him in the next Indian test squad without any delay. Justice delayed will always be justice denied and such a raw talent should never go wasted.
We cannot help thinking what has happened to Mathew Hayden of Australia. If only he was given a chance atleast five years before his actually debut, he would have really ridiculed all the statistics which are in the test matches record books right now. It is not only about records and if you want to find India making their mark in test cricket all over the world, specially down under, the selectors need to give Rohit his well deserved break.
Rohit is the best batsman cricket has given in the present era and I sincerely believe post Tendulkar era would truly be his if he was given a place in the Indian team. The talk of him emulating Sachin Tendulkar was prevalent even four years ago but till now selectors have kept on overlooking him and it is a real surprise.
Honestly, I believe he would be remembered as the most stylish and elegant batsman ever to have played the game if he was given right opportunities in the days to come.