Rohit Sharma has the potential to cement his place in the Test side

Though a fantastic talent, Rohit Sharma is yet to show the necessary focus and consistency to translate his huge potential into tangible results © Getty Images

 

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

 

Talent, technique and temperament are considered as the keys to success at the highest level of cricket. Talent is generally divine gift. Technique is the result of hard work and long hours at practice. Temperament is an abstract factor; something that has to do with the mind.

 

There is no shortage of talent among the current lot of young cricketers in India. One such is Rohit Sharma — a player with loads of promise. And the promise can be seen in all departments of the game. The time he gets to play his stroke — always the sign of a quality player — and the timing behind his strokes is simply awesome. As a fielder, he is truly world class and as a bowler, he is acknowledged partnership breaker who has the potential to offer far more than he has been giving.

 

Since Sachin Tendulkar’s Test debut in 1989, Indian cricket has produced some phenomenally talented players. Most of them have gone on to have spectacular careers, but a few haven’t lived up to the promise. What failed them from realising their potential was their lack of temperament.

 

Rohit has shown fantastic talent, but he is yet to show the necessary focus and consistency to translate his huge potential into tangible results. At 24, Rohit has reached a very crucial stage of his career. He is yet to make his Test debut even after being in the national limited-overs set-up for four years and scoring heaps of runs in first-class cricket. It is really sad to see such precocious talent not yet wearing the Test cap. A player of his ability should have been in whites a long time ago – a last-minute injury denied him that opportunity at Nagpur against South Africa in 2010. He is still young, but in the last four years he has lost valuable time where he could have made himself indispensable to the Indian team and also played Test cricket.

 

Here is a list of the most talented Indian players and their respective ages at the time of their Test debuts (after Tendulkar’s debut):

 

Player

Age at Test debut

Anil Kumble

19

Javagal Srinath

22

Vinod Kambli

21

Rahul Dravid

23

Sourav Ganguly

23

VVS Laxman

22

Harbhajan Singh

17

Zaheer Khan

22

Virender Sehwag

23

Yuvraj Singh

21

Irfan Pathan

19

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

24

 

The list comprises some hugely talented and successful players like Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. On the other side of the coin, there are names like Vinod Kambli, Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh (the reference here is to Test cricket) who haven’t lived up to their early promise.

 

An average of over 60 in first-class cricket speaks volumes of Rohit’s ability. To narrow it down further, in the Ranji Trophy — India’s National championship for cricket — he averages a whooping 68.20.

 

According to Sudhir Vaidya, the famed cricket statistician, if 2000 runs are taken as the minimum qualification, then 32 batsmen have the distinction of maintaining averages of over 60 in the Ranji Trophy.

 

Rohit may have scored a lot of runs in domestic cricket, but he needs to do the same for India. The tour to the West Indies was a positive sign that he was ready to make his opportunities count. But he has to make sure that he shows consistency and maintains a hold over his spot in the Indian ODI team. The West Indies tour shouldn’t just be an isolated spark of brilliance and he should use the forthcoming ODI England series to cement his place in the team.

 

The coveted Test cap is what he should strive for. If the selectors show patience and perseverance in grooming Rohit, India could have a solid player to serve the middle-order for a long time to come.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 20-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.”)