Also See: The tale of two debutants
Form, they say, is temporary, whereas class is permanent.
The first time I watched Rohit Sharma batting in Mumbai in 2004, he looked to be a player with immense talent and plenty of class. He made batting look pleasurable and graceful.
He, however, had a chink in his armour. He lacked patience and maturity. He would play a wonderful cameo and then throw his wicket away through a rash stroke.
Finally, the hunger of Test cricket and being kept away from it culminated in his scintillating debut at Kolkata.
At a dinner a few years ago in Mumbai, I was seated at the same table as this young prodigy. I remember telling him that it will only be a question of time before he adorns the whites for India and with such inherent talent he will not be out of place there.
As a former cricketer, one is always glad to be proved right and I feel this is only the start of the journey.
Rohit was handed his Test cap by Sachin Tendulkar, which seemed perfect as it was a fellow Mumbai and Indian cricketing stalwart handing over his baton to the next in line.
Indian cricket now has three exciting new batting sensations in Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma. All of them are magnificent strokemakers and will be the backbone of the Indian side in years to come. Along with them, we have Ravichandran Ashwin, a very astute and thinking cricketer.
He has shown the technique and characteristics to bat much higher up the order. He reminds me of Ravi Shastri and like him can become a formidable all-rounder.
The more one admires his thought process the more he gives one the impression that he could be a future Indian captain.
The success of another debutant in Mohammad Shami is another bright spark in Indian cricket. One hopes that his fast medium bowling will culminate in him becoming a fast bowler. He has the build and the stamina and a nice high arm action for it.
Somehow, Indian cricket produces talented young fast bowlers who fade away into the sunset.
Malcolm Marshall, when he came to India in 1978, was just a medium fast bowler but within a year bowled a yard quicker and went on to become the fastest bowler in the world.
Indian cricket is hoping that some of our youngsters work extra hard to make themselves the demons of world cricket. In India’s quest for cricketing supremacy a genuine fast bowler is an essential requirement.
A captain has to strategise and think about all the permutations and combinations along with motivating his team.
The longest format of the game is an arduous journey.
Darren Sammy had the Indian side in a deep hole but then lost the plot completely. Test cricket is a mind game and whether one is batting, bowling or captaining a positive approach is the prime ingredient for success.
Close-in fielding somehow has not improved in cricket. A few converted half chances would have changed the complexion of recent Tests around the world.
One wonders whether the coaches of the modern era have understood its importance as we have halfhearted individuals standing at suicidal positions without the skills to enjoy it. The bats, the style of strokeplay and fast outfields need innovative field placements.
(The writer is a former Test cricketer)