Vivrant Sharma: Impact Player rule cannot prevent best all-rounders from coming to the fore

The dissection of all-rounders’ role after the introduction of the ‘Impact Player’ rule, and the ensuing identity crisis that it brings for his kind, only adds a layer to Vivrant Sharma’s challenge of bringing value to his team.

Published : Dec 18, 2023 15:13 IST , CHENNAI - 4 MINS READ

FILE PHOTO: Vivrant Sharma.
FILE PHOTO: Vivrant Sharma. | Photo Credit: PTI

FILE PHOTO: Vivrant Sharma. | Photo Credit: PTI

Vivrant Sharma needed just one innings with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League last season to leave an indelible impression. Opening with Mayank Agarwal in the side’s final league game against Mumbai Indians, the southpaw notched up a fifty on debut. His 47-ball 69 was the highest by a debutant in the tournament.

But making the most of whatever is offered started way back for Vivrant.

“I was a bowler. In the stadium where I used to go for practice, the seniors batted all the time, and the juniors only got the chance on alternate days. Sometimes, even less. So, I stuck to bowling there. It was only during under-16 when I went to Delhi that I increased my batting,” Vivrant says.

Even the first instance of Vivrant picking up a bat early on was not dictated by his terms but by a constraint of space.

“I started [at home] looking at my brother who played cricket. But I had to bat right-handed because one side of the wall was covered with mirrors and there was no room to swing my arms. I switched the other way later, trying to emulate my brother,” Vivrant says.

Years later, his inclination towards looking at the positives seems just as effortless when put to test. After two seasons with the Sunrisers Hyderabad, as a leg-spin net bowler in 2022, and a player, signed for Rs 2.6 crore, in 2023, Vivrant was released.

Thoda bura laga (I did feel a bit bad), to be very honest. But they communicated clearly that since they finished last in 2023, they wanted to go into the auction with a bigger purse. This only teaches you how to be professional. You have to take things in your stride and move ahead,” Vivrant says.

The dissection of all-rounders’ role after the introduction of the ‘Impact Player’ rule, and the ensuing identity crisis that it brings for his kind, only adds a layer to Vivrant’s challenge of bringing value to his team. Honing both skills is the way forward, Vivrant feels. 

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“The Impact player has strengthened batting. But still, this rule cannot prevent the best from coming to the fore. It might impact someone who is 70-30, say a bowler who can bat a little. With this player, the team might think it can go with an all-out bowler instead. But if someone is equally good at both, I don’t think this rule is a problem,” Vivrant says.

However, the idea of not compromising on either skill was sold to him before the Impact Player rule necessitated it.

“The first day I reached the hotel [last season], Brian Lara texted me, ‘I want to speak to you’. I went to meet him, and Muttiah Muralidharan was there as well. Lara told me he was unaware of my batting since I was a net bowler, but he followed it the entire previous season. He said, ‘I think you’re a great asset for the franchise and your country’. He told me not to give up on my bowling, saying it will help me in the longer run,” Vivrant says.

It is a testament to Vivrant’s talent that even amid questions on the relevance of all-rounders, the buzz around his name in the build-up to Tuesday’s auction has been brewing. Though, it fills him with anticipation, Vivrant is not fixated on the outcome. Fulfilment for the Jammu boy had arrived much earlier. To work, and compete, with big names over the last two seasons was evidence enough for Vivrant that he belonged at the level. “Inner peace,” he says for the lack of finding a better set of words.

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After scoring 313 runs in six innings at 52.16 for Jammu & Kashmir in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, and a modest outing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy before that, Vivrant wants to make the most out of the Ranji Trophy. Being ready for the First-Class season, which he says is the litmus test for any player, consumes him the most for the time being. 

“I still think if you score in red-ball cricket, you come into the limelight much faster. It is the toughest format. If you do well in white ball, and not so much in red ball, one might say that he’s still not up to the mark. Days cricket adds completeness to a player,” Vivrant says.

Asked if playing for India was among his aspirations, Vivrant said, “ Jo apne haath mei hain usse pakad ke chalo, aage jo hona hain hota chala jayega. (Whatever is in your control, just focus on that. The rest will take care of itself).”

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