Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rohit Sharma - A Special Talent

I haven’t seen much of the IPL this season, but I can’t imagine the tournament having produced too many finer innings’ than Rohit Sharma’s yesterday. It was as joyous a knock as one is likely to see in T-20 cricket. The format doesn’t allow a single ponderous moment, but time seemed to stand still for Sharma, who produced an innings of extraordinary refinement that was a true pleasure to the eye. His full array of strokes was dazzlingly displayed as he tore apart the Chennai Super Kings’ bowling to score 87 runs off 48 balls.

If I were to have only one problem with this shortened, frenzied format of the game, it is the ensuing death of elegance in batsmanship. Maybe it requires judgment based on different aesthetic standards. A violent heave over cow-corner, perhaps, has its own beauty, which happily for me, though, I am yet to discover. Sharma, however, can make the fiercest stroke look elegant, because the result for him is often a product of timing rather than power. Therefore, even in T-20 cricket he can make batting look like an unruffled, uniquely beautiful form of art.

Sharma’s talent has never been in question. Temperament, though, is a different matter. After bursting onto the international scene with sparkling knocks in the inaugural World T-20 at South Africa and in an ODI tri-series in Australia, he has failed to find even a modicum of consistency, restricting our pleasure to his rare showings of brilliance. In first-class cricket he has continued to make a pile of runs ensuring he remains in the national reckoning even if he may have fallen behind Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara in the pecking order.

Sharma, like Mark Waugh and Damien Martyn, when in full flight, makes batting look so ridiculously easy that when he is dismissed, it appears a product of carelessness. This, though, is a price that one pays for elegance, which may be a creation unknown even to the exponent. No doubt, some of his failings have been a result of a lack of concentration and perhaps even problems with attitude. But still only twenty-three years of age, Sharma remains one of India’s brightest talents, someone who can treat batting like a form of high art – a rarity in today’s age.

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