July 29, 2012

Temperament lets Rohit down

Rohit Sharma makes batting look easy, but five years since his debut, he is yet to arrive in international cricket

In 2007 Rohit Sharma burst onto the Indian cricket scene as a young player with immense potential destined for bigger things in life. When on song, he's been a delight to watch, for his languid movement makes batting look ever so easy. Traditionally, there are a three 'T's to judge a young batsman - the first is Talent, which is the inherent or acquired ability to pick the line and length of the ball a lot earlier than many, which in turn allows the body to get into the right position to play a shot.

If we were to simplify batting, the crux of it is to always be in a position to receive the ball. The earlier you are there, the more the options you have to deal with the ball. On the contrary, if you're still on the move when the ball arrives, there's very little that you can do with it. Rohit Sharma ticks this box quite easily, for he seems to have all the time in the world to deal with even the quickest bowlers who don't trouble him much.

The second T, though slightly misunderstood, is the Technical prowess. While there is always the copybook way of playing every stroke, it isn't necessary to follow the written rules all the time, for different players develop different techniques to not only survive but also thrive. Still a strong technical base, if married with discipline, ensures consistency.

Even though there were a few glitches in his technique like the head falling towards the off-side in the stance, as it is with most players early on, his basics were pretty much in place. It is his minimalistic feet movement which ensures that he's rarely off-balance and so his timely weight transfer produces that elusive timing. Another box successfully ticked.

Obviously there's a lot going for Rohit in both the talent and technique department, which also explains, to a certain extent, the faith reposed in him by the captain and the team management. To his credit, he did turn a new leaf in 2011 when he started converting attractive cameos into match-winning performances by batting the bulk of the overs at his disposal.

But it's the third T - the Temperament - that has let him down, once again. Not surprisingly, it happens a lot with people who are talented because everything seems to be far too simple to them. Temperament is a sum of many character traits like discipline, controlling the impulse, rational response to pressure etc., developed over a period of time, which needs awareness and knowledge of your own craft. Since most of the times the only thing such talented players need to do to score is to just turn up for the match, they tend to underestimate the importance of processes and structures.

Someone lesser talented would always have the blueprint for each innings, as structuring the innings correctly is imperative to their success. Rohit doesn't seem to understand the need to avoid playing high-risk shots at the beginning of the innings or the value of consciously moving his feet slightly quicker in certain conditions or during bad phases. He was guilty of slashing outside the off-stump early on in the innings only to nick it to the wicketkeeper many-a-times in Australia. Shot-selection is as important as the ability to play those shots, since each time you pick the wrong ball or the wrong moment to play that shot, you're doomed.

His batting, as one of my friends put it, swings between 'wow' and 'how'. When he pulls off those impossible shots, you admire in awe and then when he throws away his wicket to reckless shots, you wonder about the futility of his talent.

In the first two matches in Sri Lanka, he was late on the ball and gave the impression of being a tad lazy. He doesn't have a trigger movement to get his body in motion and, perhaps, he could have introduced it in Sri Lanka to avoid being late on the ball. Obviously, he isn't a lazy player, but his movements devoid of any urgency give that impression.

Arrogance is one of the likely offspring of success, ironically leading to the collapse of the very success it was made of. Rohit has had the tendency of getting too far ahead of himself, which results in his dismissal in the most unexpected manner. He may have nicked the previous ball towards slip that fell short of the fielder at slip, but that doesn't prevent him from not attempting the same shot off the very next delivery. His batting, as one of my friends put it, swings between 'wow' and 'how'. When he pulls off those impossible shots, you admire in awe and then when he throws away his wicket to reckless shots, you wonder about the futility of his talent.

When the going is good, Rohit finds gaps where others find fielders; he delays his shots when others get hurried. However, in 2012, a good five years since he made his international debut, he's still considered as someone with potential and not as someone who's finally arrived. It tells us, as it did in Vinod Kambli's case, that talent can take you only so far, beyond which it's the temperament that takes precedence.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2012, 13:45 GMT

    Rohit was a key player of the team that beat Australia in Australia in the Tri-Series many years ago!

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2012, 12:58 GMT

    he never succeded 4 india....... he only played well against a vey depleted WI side!!!!!! playing 4 mumbai indians dosent make him great!!!!!!!!

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2012, 12:49 GMT

    you will be surprised how rohit's name can easily be replaced with sehwag and yuvraj at given periods of time in this article. in fact sehwag has been making the same mistakes over the last 10 years or so (in ODIs at least). yuvraj had a horrible run against spinners but he was still persisted. rohit also deserves a decent run in the team. when on song, he makes batting look easy, very much like vvs. it's sort of unfortunate because people associate elegance with laziness and undermine their hardwork.

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    This is an excellent article about Rohit Sharma's success-failure story. He displayed good temperament in the IPL always. In ODIs, he was always under passive pressure.

  • Ajith Prasad on July 31, 2012, 9:09 GMT

    As usual Aakash Chopra is talking sense. I hope M/s Dhoni & Fletcher company reads this article. Rohit Sharma has been given enough opportunities. Having played more than 80 ODIs for India over five years, he is still shaky and not at all dependable. It's time we experimented with someone else. After five years of international cricket, he (who was once hailed as Dravid's replacement) hasn't even played a test match while the likes of Suresh Raina with flawed technic has managed to get a test cap. Only due to commitment i.e. (by both Dhoni and Raina lol)

    (By the way, there's a fourth 'T' - Timing - which Rainas and Rohits have only in the sub-continent lol. )

  • Venkatesh on July 31, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    With1900 runs in 88 odi's is too less for any player what ever may be the talent he possess. If the kind of chance that is given to Rohit had it been given to players like Badri or vijay, they would've utilised it in good way.

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2012, 7:10 GMT

    Rohit has been given enough chances and he is being sorted out on a regular basis. But he seems the best for Indian pitches. I think BCCI should start picking specialists for each conditions - strictly. If I were to pick Rohit I will do so for all games (Tests and One days) played in India (home series games) but definitely not for overseas games. Same with Raina. After Yuvi's return from rehab - I think Yuvi needs to be playing in the Tests alone. Same with Sachin, Sehwag, Zaheer, Umesh and Laxman - just Tests alone. Gambhir needs to be in T20s and Tests. Dhoni should retire from T20s after T20 WC and concentrate solely on adapting to the Test format while playing the one dayers - the reason being Dhoni is a committed player despite lack of technique for the Test format. Rayudu should be considered for the one dayers and T20s as a wicketkeeper batsman. I.Pathan needs towork out some leg spin tweaks at his pace (remember Kumble?) Player management needs to be upmost on BCCI's mind.

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2012, 7:08 GMT

    There is something With him and Dhoni. If Dhoni is inside the Team, Rohit rely on Dhoni completely. he got some thought in his mind as the finisher (Dhoni) was yet to come. So he was playing some Rubbish shots, not valuing his Wicket. But this is not same case with Virat. He values his wicket much. And If dhoni is not in team. Rohit was feeling his responsibilities towards the team. There is nothing about the Three T's as Chopra said. It was simply the some "ASS FAT" within Rohit. He should have to change his attitude towards the team. else he should have to bat behind the Dhoni and Raina! So that he ll feel some heat at his back.

  • Nitin on July 31, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    In the period 2009 to 2011 Rohit avg is 43 whereas Gam is 43, Yuvi 39.6, Seh is 46, Raina is 35.6 Jadeja 31 and Y Pathan 27.46. He has been performing consistentny in the last 3 years. In 2012 he is not in gr8 form so we should back him.

  • DIVIN on July 31, 2012, 5:57 GMT

    The real problem with Rohit is that he is not sure of his role in the team(as was the case of Mohammed kaif), especially when Dhoni is around. Stats shows that he averages 21 under Dhoni while he averages 79 under captains other than Dhoni.

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