Rohit Sharma has been the talk of Indian cricket for years now ever since making his debut in 2007 during the ICC World Twenty20. Former cricketers and experts have often touted him to be the best batsman in the world. He has been been referred as the most talented batsman and that seems to have not gone down well with the Mumbai batsman. With an important series coming up against South Africa, there will be more eyes on Rohit. In an interview to DNA, Rohit talks about himself, the criticism and how the word, ‘talent’ is not the word he wants to be associated with. He spoke how the long rope that he has got is due to his run in domestic cricket and not just based on potential that people keep talking.
Rohit just scored 202 runs in the series against Sri Lanka. On the low scores, Rohit said, “The series was good from the team’s perspective. We won a series in Sri Lanka for the first time in 22 years. Also, the last time we won a Test match was at Lord’s in July 2014. Since then, we played three more in England, four in Australia, one in Bangladesh and one in Galle. So, it felt great to finally win a Test after 13 months. Incredibly, we went on to win the series. So, to lose the first Test and win the next two was special. As a team, that was a huge challenge. The players were under pressure. But, in the end, we managed to do something remarkable. Not many teams have done that.”
Rohit had to wait for a long time for his Test debut, he was supposed to make his Test debut against South Africa at home but tripped over the ball and hurt his ankle. But the wait was sweeter since he scored back-to-back tons in his first couple of Tests at home against West Indies in 2013. His performances though after the superb start at home have been far from convincing and it was something Rohit acknowledged as well. “I don’t think I need anyone’s force behind me to ensure that I am part of the squad. If I deserve to be part of the squad, I will be in the squad. If you look at my statistics, which I never usually look into unless people force me to, I see that I average 37 after 14 Tests. It’s not that bad. Somehow I feel — it’s there ever since I started playing and I am sure it will continue to be there — that people expect a lot from me. Every time I go into bat, they expect me to get a hundred. That’s too much to ask for from one person. People need to be more realistic. Commentators, like the term suggests, will comment on anything they feel like. That’s their job. They have to talk. If they don’t talk, somebody else will come and talk. I don’t bother about all these things because, honestly, it’s not going to help me. What’s going to help me is staying focused and working hard on my game. I need to concentrate on what I need to do. As you rightly said, I was the second-highest run-getter for India in Sri Lanka. Yet you guys (media) are not happy with me. I am not a superhuman, but I am expected to play like one. That’s what everybody wants to do. OK, you may continue to do so. I will just try and enjoy my cricket.”
He batted at No. 3 in the first Test against Sri Lanka but then was subsequently dropped to playing at number 5. On asked if he preferred to bat at any position, Rohit said, “See, it’s not my call. I bat where the team wants me to bat. It’s a team game. I can’t predict what’s going to happen. That’s the job of the captain and coach. I have done whatever I had to do.”
Rohit though got a bit perplexed when asked about the expectations, and delivering results to the hopes of the fans. “Firstly, I don’t think that I am talented. This ‘talent’ talk has messed things up for me. I started my career as a bowler. I was never a batsman. All this natural talent, God’s gift and all that you guys in the media talk and write about is unfair and wrong. I have worked on my batting to get here. I used to bat at No. 8. From there, I made my way up. Ask my coach, Mr Dinesh Lad, and he will tell you that I was an off-spinner. People must think before talking. And speaking of dismissals, that’s how a batsman usually gets out — to an incoming ball, caught in the slip cordon, bowled, etc