When Virender Sehwag was elevated to open the batting, one wondered if the decision was a calculated risk. The reality was Sehwag had done enough at the domestic level to warrant recognition — as much for his form as the domineering method he used to change games in a short time. Accommodating him in the world’s most revered middle order appeared difficult. I’m not sure if his elevation was by design or default, the fact is his style of play could not be ignored.
Now Rohit Sharma seems to be in much the same boat. His talent and method of batting will always be admired when he plays well, and criticised when he fails.
In the early 1970s, the mercurial bully of domestic cricket, Ashok Mankad, was asked to open, as was Dilip Sardesai before him.
However, their failure at opening the innings could be looked at as an inability to adapt to an alien position. A new position and role is as much a mindset issue as an adjustment to one’s existing technique and style of play. Both Mankad and Sardesai may have got a raw deal opening the batting, but sometimes one takes risks more out of desperation than pragmatism.
In the days to come, Rohit will be faced with similar challenges, to give himself a shot at a Test match place.
His talent is evident
The faith he enjoys from the selectors is contentious but valid. Chances of him being pitchforked to open the batting are strong.
Opening the batting for Rohit is a reality so he must be prepared for it long-term. To change one’s mindset is all about accepting the new role and preparing for it.
He will know what to expect as an opener. A new ball and fresher bowlers. Not too much time to rest after long hours in the field, and most importantly, an approach to batting that may be slightly different from his natural style and flair.
Yes, he will caress the first half volley he gets with his lazy elegance, but he will need to be agile and get into position a split second earlier.
Getting in first in the nets, playing the new ball at most times and opening the innings in all games club upwards, could be a sensible start to get into the groove.
Preparing with a purpose could be the starting point to him finally fulfilling his potential, and he must set himself for the long haul. The best thing would be a quiet dinner, accompanied by a questionnaire, in the company of Sunil Gavaskar.
(The writer is former Mumbai captain and was CEO of two IPL franchises)
Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.