Will Rohit Sharma indeed retire without playing a Test?

Rohit was identified as a great prospect when he displayed a cool head under pressure in the CB series final at Sydney in 2008 © AFP

By Madan Mohan


Rohit Sharma is sitting out of the fourth Test against Australia in Adelaide. VVS Laxman plays at the hallowed Adelaide Oval… possibly one last time or two. As would Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. That’s right! The Indian batting line-up would have gone through a four-Test series that they lost comprehensively without any changes to the combination. Talk of confidence!


One hoped that Rohit would finally be given a Test cap and tested in a dead rubber. But it was hardly surprising to learn that he is not part of the final XI. There is much nostalgic, moist-eyed sentiment floating in the papers as the nation prepares to bid goodbye to the Big Three. As well as they have served the team for a very long time, Team India’s priorities appear misplaced.


It is very much understandable for fans to miss players that some of them have grown up watching, but a side must be firmly focused on team goals rather than individual interests. That’s not the case at Adelaide in the ongoing Test. The series is well and truly lost and even the regular incumbent, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, is not leading the side.  There was no better opportunity to try some changes to the combination and India, predictably, have missed the chance.


Rohit was identified as a great prospect when he displayed a cool head under pressure in the CB series final at Sydney in 2008. Since then, he has struggled to seal his ODI berth and has not made his Test debut to date. He showed signs of turning the corner with regard to his inconsistency against the West Indies in 2011, but the much-awaited Test cap has still not come.


That is generally inevitable with the Big Three crowding out middle-order slots and Rohit upstaged by Virat Kohli. But why should that be even in a dead rubber? I wouldn’t call for unseemly haste to ‘retire’ the Big Three out of the Test team, but what happened to BCCI’s famous ‘rest’ orders? There could not have been a better time than this for resting a player and experimenting with new prospects.


As much as the Big Three would love to play one last time at Adelaide, surely giving a valuable opportunity to youngsters to play in Australia was a more important consideration with things being as they are. Even as they take their own sweet time to choose their moment, blooding youngsters in a dead rubber would have hardly been an affront to their achievements.


I believe the team intends to salvage pride and aim to win the Test by fielding its best combination. But, with seven losses on the trot abroad, that argument doesn’t hold water anymore. Even if it is the best combination on paper, the ‘ground’ reality has been unflattering and merits fiddling with. At the time of writing, Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid are already back in the pavilion and yet another great Indian collapse (boy, we haven’t seen enough of them yet, have we?) looms. A grand 0-4 rout beckons, with Australia leaving a mountain to climb for India – yet again!


For small mercies, Sehwag, the standby skipper, has hinted at moving back down the order, having had an unhappy time as opener in England and Australia.  The fine print, however, is that he will think about it once some of the middle-order batsmen retire! So, no Test debut for Ajinkya Rahane either at Adelaide, then! Rohit and Rahane, two of India’s cricketing future, have been condemned to warm the benches while the senior players have failed Test after Test while the team slumped to humiliating losses. Golandaaz’s humourous piece Rohit Sharma to retire from Test cricket before making his Test debut is beginning to acquire a frightening tinge of seriousness.


India’s selectors have been about as spineless and lacking in strategy as the Indian team and prepared the ground for these dismal days with their ad hoc choices over the years.


One hopes Rohit is at least not deemed to be too old to be part of the future if and when he gets a look-in. It’s happened before – to S Badrinath!


(Madan Mohan is a 26-year old chartered accountant from Mumbai.  The writing bug bit him when he was 8 and to date, he has not been cured of it.  He loves music, cricket, tennis and cinema and writing on cricket is like the icing on the cake.  He also writes a blog if he is not feeling too lazy at http://rothrocks.wordpress.com/)