There are times when you watch a player for the first time you know that he is going to make it big. Some players demand your attention. Rohit Sharma is such a player.
Experts of the Mumbai cricketing circles have been talking about him since he was a teenager. For all these years, everyone has been waiting for him to finally arrive.
Talent requires time and care to blossom. You can’t train such players like soldiers in a regiment.
Rohit is an ideal case study. Constant exclusions didn’t upset him nor did he come under the pressure of performing.
When he was playing for Mumbai under-17, the team coach Vasu Paranjpe told him, “With the talent you possess if you don’t destroy attacks, you are at the wrong place”.
The next day while scoring a big hundred, he virtually destroyed the attack.
Rohit wasn’t the typical Mumbai batsman. However, he read the situation quickly, adapted immediately and created scoring opportunities, something that we witnessed at the Eden Gardens.
On debut, with the team in trouble and Shillingford looking dangerous, Rohit dealt with the situation like a tested professional.
People who had seen him from his school days said that this was the essential Rohit, just having upgraded to an even better edition with the approach.
He defended spinners with a soft hand which frustrated the bowler and the close-in fielders. His temperament was impeccable.
Whenever he used to throw away his wicket, his temperament was always questioned. But the Eden Gardens atmosphere brought the best out of this artist.
In 2004, when he scored a superb hundred at Bangalore playing for the NCA, Vengsarkar immediately picked him for the Mumbai team which was to play in the Irani Trophy.
Here was a 17-year-old who wasn’t even in the probables of the Ranji team.
But Rohit didn’t turn up for practice because he wasn’t informed. He was promptly dropped.
“In Mumbai cricket, even a club won’t tolerate such indiscipline” the coach had said.
Rohit was a gentle talent that had to be nurtured with care, as his teammates of the Mumbai team and the subsequent coaches realised.
When he was promoted to open the batting in the One-Day Internationals there were many former cricketers who felt he was being sacrificed like Dilip Sardesai and Ashok Mankad in the past.
But the swashbuckling knock at Bangalore, and mostly the approach he displayed at Kolkata relieved all worries and replaced them with accolades.
It must be said here that the National selection panel has been prudent in persisting with him. Sandeep Patil knows what it is to suffer at the hands of the selectors.
But how long can a selector pick a player who doesn’t perform? Rohit clicked but what if he didn’t? Rohit’s stars have been good to him, but more than his stars it’s the selectors whom he should thank.