Before his selection for the ongoing series, Rohit Sharma, in a conversation with The Indian Express, revisited the nightmarish 2012 tour of Sri Lanka that forced him to make technical changes in his batting. He also talked about how opening in ODIs helped him become a better batsman. Excerpts:
What is the biggest technical change you have had to make in recent times?
That tendency to poke at the ball. It happened a lot. Back then my hands used to go towards the ball as they were away from my hip, and hence the body. Now, I’m trying to keep my hands as close to my hip as possible, which helps me to play close to my body. When your hands are not near your hip, you tend to play a lot of balls on fourth, fifth stump and sixth stump. My bat would come down from around third slip and I was making a whole circle to play the ball. Keeping the hands near the hip saved me time because the bat was just coming down straighter and with full bat face. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful with that kind of back-lift. Look at Hashim Amla. But the thing is that wherever the back-lift starts from, it has to come straight when it crosses your body.
What was your specific problem that was creating all the issues?
My problem was it (bat) used to go slightly across my body and result in my head falling. Because the head will follow the bat. It is pulling you towards the bat. The bat is pulling you away. Wherever the head goes everything else will go. So the hands follow. And if your head falls you’re gone. This was my technique till say 2012. I made this conscious decision (changing technique) just before the 2013 Champions Trophy after I realized I had to open the innings. At the top of the order you can’t have your hands stray away from the body like that.
Was there a knock or a series where you felt that enough was enough and it was time for a change?
The Sri Lanka tour in 2012 where I scored just 10 runs in five ODIs. My head was falling way too much. After three ODIs, my scores were 5, 3 and then 0. It was so frustrating; I went to the analyst and found out what was going on. My head was falling too much. There was a game I remember where Malinga bowled a Yorker and it hit straight on my boot and I was out lbw. I didn’t know what was going on after three games and things didn’t improve in the next two as well. That was the worst tour of my career. I went back and saw my videos. I also saw videos of batsmen who had scored more than 10,000 runs and compared my technique.
Were the faults always there or did they creep in later?
That was how I had played from 2006 to 2012. I had scored a lot of runs with that technique, but when you’re playing international cricket people will sort you out with the help of technology. That was a big worry for me. I realized something was really wrong. I don’t think I’m that bad a batsman to have so low scores.