Mikhail Vaswani, Presenter, Neo Sports
Selection is not just about picking a player at the right time; it is also about dropping a player at the right time. So was the timing right for Rohit Sharma's exclusion?
Before we get to that, one must admit that for Rahul Dravid the time is just right. Let's make one thing very clear - the idea is not to get into comparisons, but ironically it will be fair to say that Rohit Sharma has been pushed to and by ‘the wall’. 'What youth is used to, age remembers' and even as Rohit begins to understand the falls in his promising career, a nostalgic Dravid is probably reliving his past through Sharma’s experience. Such is the tale of 'the wall' and fall that the two 'R's today find themselves on opposite sides of the spectrum.
And what makes it not just intriguing but even alarming is the exclusion of Rohit Sharma from the 15 member squad, despite Sehwag's absence due to injury. 'A younger trooper should have an old horse’ and no better man than Dravid to fill the slot. A warrior who, after being termed as ‘incompetent’ in the shorter version, came back only to score over 10, 000 runs. Not just that, at 37, he is not a liability on the field and doesn’t have to be shielded by his captain. An average of close to 40 in ODIs is assuring but it is his performance overseas which makes him a deserved candidate. Playing on foreign soil, Dravid averages 42.13, while his performance on the juicy, bouncy tracks of South Africa too has accounted for an average of close to 45. Let's not discount his recent IPL performance with the bat as well.
But the real catalyst for his comeback can be attributed to his Champions trophy performance over the years. In his 13 outings in the mini World Cup, Dravid averages 50 with 5 half centuries.
Dravid brings a certain credibility and assurance to the Indian batting and, not surprisingly, in adversity you fall back on age, experience and reputation. So, even as India embrace their tried and tested accumulator, the veteran realizes that an occasion once lost - two years back - can now be redeemed. But is his inclusion futuristic? Well that entirely depends on Dravid from now on.
‘Venture a small fish to catch a great one.’ Well Rohit Sharma can best relate to this phrase. Little did he know that opening the innings in the T20 World Cup would end up being bait. When need is the highest, help is the highest and sadly Rohit, who raised his hand at the time of crisis in the T20 World Cup, today finds no help from his captain or the team management. There is some amount of truth in every action and Rohit has to swallow this bitter pill. In hindsight, it only culminated into a great Indian fall. If his T20 World Cup outing was considered an aberration, then what compounded to Rohit's woes were just 3 ODIs in West Indies.He may have ended with 15 runs in 3 outings in the carribean, but is this the price talent and promise has to pay?
In 41 ODIs, Rohit may have scored just 695 runs, averaging a mere 25, with just 6 fifties, but the same batsman in 13 T20’s has already scored 238 runs at an impressive average of 34 with 2 fifties. So if a batsman can make scoring look so easy in probably the most demanding and pressure situations in the T20 format, then his inclusion in the ODI fold should come as an automatic transition.
A floater in the Indian batting line-up, Rohit’s CB series performance in early 2008 should be reminded to all. His two fifties in that series including a vital 66 in the first final in Sydney is of significant mettle. Also, after Tendulkar, he is the only batsman to score centuries in both the innings of the Ranji final. Such is the caliber in this bundle of talent, who is also termed as a gifted cricket for that extra second.
A revelation in IPL season 2 in South Africa and a vital cog in India's T20 World Cup win in South Africa finds no mention at all for the Champions trophy to be held at the same venue. From being just a batsman, Rohit has worked on his bowling which showed results in the IPL in South Africa. Desperate to become a utilty player, today his playing profile has earned him the all-rounders tag. A flash of brilliance in the field, a compact and impact player depending on the situation and a handy game-breaker with the ball, this 22 year old oozes talent.
Promise needs assurance, security and nurturing, not radical measures. Talent needs tempermental treatment and not a tyranized approach, all of this, keeping in mind the larger picture of 2011. Ironic as it may sound, in june 2007, Rohit Sharma made his ODI debut and at around the same time in November 2007, Dravid lost his place, until now.
‘On the turf all men are equal,’ and for now Rohit finds himself displaced off it, but comebacks are a necessity in this sport and one hopes that like Dravid, Rohit earns a recall as well and soon. One holds no hostilty to Dravid's inclusion, but does remain skeptical of Rohit's exclusion, because if youth is the way forward, then at this point youth and age will disagree. While Dravid's presence in the middle after two years makes for a feeling of anticipation around the country, then Rohit's domestic run this season will make for a most intersting piece of statstic.
There is always a way out, but when a solution is acheived through a compromise, then it doesn't end up being far feteched and a true cricket enthusiast will only hope that the day is not far when Dravid and Rohit togeher steer India to victory.