Sunil Gavaskar: Rohit Sharma's absence certainly impacted the Indians

Rohit Sharma's injury has been the subject of much speculation and even now there’s no clarity whether he will be travelling to Australia for the Test series.

Rohit Sharma’s absence has certainly impacted India in the limited-overs games as it has not been able to get off to the start it usually gets when he is playing.   -  PTI

The much-awaited tour of Australia by the Indian cricket team has not started well for the visiting team as the host won the One-Day series. At the time of writing this, India has clinched the T20 series winning the first two games, and having won the third and final game of the One-Day series the momentum has been regained considerably going into the Test series.

Rohit Sharma's absence certainly impacted the Indians as in four of the five games seen so far they just haven’t been able to get off to the start they usually get when he is playing. In a similar way, David Warner’s absence from the three games that India has won underscores what a vital member of the Aussie team he is. In both the games that he played, he and skipper Aaron Finch gave the Aussies a flying start that put India on the back foot straightaway.

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Rohit Sharma's injury has been the subject of much speculation and even now there’s no clarity whether he will be travelling to Australia for the Test series. Once he came back and played the last three games including the final of the IPL, it was assumed he would be fit to play the Test series and that was the ostensible reason why the selectors gave him the white-ball series off to be fully fit for the red-ball contests. He didn’t travel with the Indian team to Australia because his father was unwell and then went to the NCA in Bengaluru for rest and rehabilitation. There’s been zero information whether he had to go there because he aggravated the injury playing in the final of the IPL, taking his team to a win with a half century. Nowhere during that game did he look in any kind of trouble because of the injury and it was a relief to all that he had come through without any stress.


Rohit Sharma in action against West Indies in Visakhapatnam in 2019.   -  K.R. DEEPAK


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So, if a player comes through a tense final without any outward signs of discomfort then why does he need to go to the NCA to prove his fitness which was quite evident in the final itself? Also knowing that there is a mandatory quarantine for everybody entering Australia why is the test delayed to a date where it will be impossible for him to get to Australia in time to play the second Test match? Why not have the fitness test a couple days earlier so that he can reach Australia in time to finish the quarantine and be available for selection for the second Test match? The point simply is that if the fitness test is done a bit earlier and he is found short of fitness he is hardly going to be fit in the next couple of days. However if he is found to be fit on say December 8, then he can fly the next day to Australia and get there in time for the second Test after finishing the mandatory 14 day quarantine. Every individual’s body has a different resilience and pain threshold and some recover faster than the others. Unless he is not going to be fit at all for the second Test, he should be on the flight at the earliest as his presence in the batting line-up after Virat Kohli’s departure can be a huge boost and make a difference to the batting line-up against a fine new ball attack of the Australians.

If, however, he is found to be unfit then once again the question of club versus country will be raised by those looking to stir up a controversy. If you ask any player he will say that playing for the country is the ultimate and that is generally true for the player will be remembered more for what he achieves for the country than what he does for the club or franchise.

What seems to be happening now with the advent of the many T20 leagues all over the world is that once a player has represented the country for a long time and has crossed the age of 30, the thrill of pulling on his country’s cap seems to be diminishing as the pressure of expectations gets greater and so the surety of the T20 leagues is the easier option to take. There won’t be the ignominy of being dropped for lack of performance in the T20 franchise as it could be with the national team. In the T20 leagues, whether a player performs or not he is guaranteed his fees, while at the national level he will be left out of the team. So he can play without worry in the leagues knowing that his fees are secure for the whole season. That’s why you see the difference in their approach when playing for their country. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the current series which has come within a fortnight of the IPL.

Players who have failed in the IPL are putting a lot of thought and application when they are playing for their country and so have been successful. If only the franchises were given the authority to sack players who weren’t really trying and paying them only for the matches they had played till then, some of the big ticket players’ performance would be a lot better in the IPL.

Yes, money does make the mare go around.