10 years, 5 titles on, is IPL captaincy bit of a burden now for Rohit Sharma?
At 36 and someone who has often laboured with a serious knee injury and fitness issues in the past, there is surely a case for Rohit Sharma to re-assess his workload and come up with a plan
Less than a week after the euphoria over Sachin Tendulkar’s 50th birthday, it’s now time for the Mumbai Indians fans to celebrate a momentous occasion for another of their tallest players on Sunday – Rohit Sharma.
The Hitman, a giant of white ball cricket in the international arena as well as IPL, turned 36 on Sunday and completed a decade as captain of the most successful franchise in the richest T20 league a week back. A record five crowns as captain, shouldering the mantle of being the lead batsman for the team for years on in the unforgiving world of franchise cricket is no joke – and it’s to the man’s that he chose to wear these hats lightly.
These are responsibilities that can take a toll, something which his peer and the mighty Virat Kohli admitted when he stepped down from the Royal Challengers Bangalore captaincy. Rohit is yet to confide it in as many words, but there is no gainsaying that his consistency with the bat in IPL has taken a beating over the past few years – and has not got any easier with the captaincy of the national team in all formats now adding to the responsibilities.
A closer look at last season and the ongoing one, both when Rohit was also handling the national captaincy, reveals he had been nowhere near his exalted standards. While last season, he looked out of form and laboured to 268 runs from 14 games at an average of 19.14, the batter had looked in better touch this year though he had not been able to convert a few starts. An aggregate of 181 from seven innings, with one half-century and an average of 25.86, is not a flattering one for someone of his stature.
At 36 and someone who has often laboured with a serious knee injury and fitness issues in the past, there is surely a case for the Mumbaikar to re-assess his workload and come up with a plan. The legendary Sunil Gavaskar was spot-on recently when he said that with MI having little chance of making the play-offs, Rohit should take a break from IPL from here onwards and keep himself fresh for the World Test Championship (ATC) final next month.
It’s a million dollar question whether there will be a consensus on this but for now, it’s time to doff the hats to this gifted batsman and a players’ captain. Looking back at his reign over the last decade, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that Ro has commanded the same amount of respect and loyalty from his teammates like say, a M.S.Dhoni.
“He’s (Rohit) grown as a leader. I mean he’s grown into leadership. Obviously, it was entrusted onto him in 2013 in the middle of a season. He was still pretty young at that point in time,” remarked Kieron Pollard, now their batting coach and a longtime comrade-in-arms.
Pollard said that inspite of being young when he first took charge, Rohit had been a quick learner and always showed leadership potential. “That shows you that a person has a great acumen of what he can accomplish and we are lucky to have him as a leader. He has a wealth of experience, so it’s a matter of tapping into that and continuing to see him grow.”
Suryakumar Yadav, another senior MI member who could be entrusted with the leadership role should Rohit actually take a break, said that Rohit’s numbers as captain speak for themselves. “Here we are in his 10th year as captain. So obviously 10 years as captain, that too for a franchise like Mumbai Indians. I think it is a very, very big achievement. It’s a story in itself. He’s brought so much glory for the franchise, winning five trophies under his captaincy.”
Australian allrounder Cameron Green, a newcomer in the MI set-up, felt Rohit was a key factor in the team’s legacy. “The success that Mumbai have had, a lot of that is to do with him.”
James Pamment, their fielding coach, offered another interesting facet about his captaincy. “A great strength of his is that he encourages the young Indian players very well. Captains just know how to pull the strings and that’s one of the things Rohit has done extremely well from being a very young captain when he first won the championship to maturing in the job,’’ the New Zealander added.