There's more to unearth from Rohit Sharma says MI coach Boucher

Published on Dec 03, 2022 09:02 PM IST

The South African believes the Indian captain is one big score away from returning to form

Indian captain Rohit Sharma during a practice session (PTI)
Indian captain Rohit Sharma during a practice session (PTI)
By, Mumbai

India captain Rohit Sharma may have endured a poor World Cup campaign, both as captain and player, but Mumbai Indians coach Mark Boucher believes ‘there is a lot more life left in him’.

The South African will take over as MI coach, next season, from Mahela Jayawardena who has been promoted to the post of Global performance head of the franchise. In this interview conducted on the sidelines of a Viacom 18 Sports event, Boucher also gave a thumbs up for Suryakumar Yadav to get a Test cap. Excerpts

You were in a T20 World Cup dugout as recently as last month. Where do you think is T20 cricket taking the game?

It’s becoming very scientific. With all the match-ups, strike rates and phase-wise thinking. As a coach, you have to find the right balance between how much science you use and whether you are prepared to be adaptable on the day. To have the matchwinner and give him the license to take the game on is sometimes the better way than being conservative. The game has changed in a big way. People have their strategists alongside them, picking up the numbers against a certain bowler who you can match up to. You have to be prepared to make some brave calls. At times they will not come off, but you have to take the good with the bad. That’s where the game is going…the American way with a lot of reliance on stats.

Teams like England are playing Test cricket the same way…

We speak a lot about the way the English are playing Test cricket. First of all, you need the conditions to be able to play that way. Secondly, you need to have players who can play that way…they got to have confidence. They also need to have the confidence of the selectors that if they do get out in the way they are instructed to play, there is some sort of continuity.

One thing England have got is quite a lot of experience, other than their openers. It’s a solid middle order who knows their game. They are all limited-overs cricketers as well, so they have got all the shots. Also, given the conditions, they can show how dangerous they are. I do think T20 has evolved so much that every player these days is not scared to express themselves if that moment arises. The coaching staff needs to back them. That’s exactly what’s happening with England.

India has had success with Rishabh Pant batting in that fashion in Tests. Would Suryakumar Yadav be a success too, if given a chance?

Absolutely. Surya is an extremely dangerous player. If he comes and scores 100 in 100 balls, the game is moving forward. There is one thing about Test cricket, the more slip fielders you can take out, the less chance of you getting out, or getting nicked off. He is certainly one player… why box him in T20 cricket? He is dangerous and brave enough to seize the moment to put bowlers under pressure. Liam Livingstone being brought in Test cricket – I know he gives the leg-spinning options as well – the same way Surya is definitely one player, who if he scores some good runs in the domestic competition, why not give him a chance?

As a MI coach, how excited are you about fit-again Jofra Archer and Jasprit Bumrah bowling together?

Yes, it’s something that we are waiting for. I hope Jofra can find some good form on return. Booms as well, I know he is working hard to get going, returning back from injury. A lot of people have missed them. It's going to be exciting to watch the two of them together. We will just have to try to find the right strategy to get the best out of them.

They will need some support. The auction will be crucial for you…

I actually saw the side we put out on the Instagram page, the other day…even if we don’t get anyone else, it's still a strong and balanced team. We have our eyes on certain players at the auction. But we already have a strong team.

This IPL will be crucial for Rohit Sharma. He will be under some pressure…

Look, when you come back from a World Cup in which you don’t win as an Indian captain, you will always be under pressure, and people are asking questions. It will blow over, as everything does. He has got an opportunity in the next India series (against Bangladesh) to do something good. Rohit is one big score away from getting headlines for good reasons.

He is someone who has been an integral part of Mumbai Indians for a long period of time. I will sit with him, have a chat to try and get the best out of him. I will try and get him to have a really good time. Being the captain of an international side, particularly India…no one can feel what it’s like, but you who is in that situation. So, it’s difficult for me to explain how he is feeling at the moment. But he has got a family at MI and we will welcome him with open arms and try and put a smile on his face and get him to play with a bit of freedom that gets the best out of him.

Are you actually surprised to see his recent batting numbers in IPL, they pale in comparison to T20Is?

It could be quite a few reasons for that. As I said, I will sit him down. Those stats are all there for players and people to see. I can’t bring up the past. You have to look at the future and try and get the best out of him.

I will try to have a relationship where we can open up with each other. I have had conversations with Rohit. I have always enjoyed playing against him. There are certain players who you watch from the back as a wicket-keeper and say ‘Jeez, he has got time’. He is certainly one of those guys who was a joy to watch from the back. It’s not something that will leave him. It’s there somewhere. You just need to get it out.

So you reckon, there’s a lot more life left in him?

Absolutely. He is an exciting cricketer. When he does well, it only bodes well for Mumbai Indians. He has won a lot of trophies as well. Hopefully, we can unearth (more from) him and get some more trophies.

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    Rasesh Mandani loves a straight drive. He has been covering cricket, the governance and business side of sport for close to two decades. He writes and video blogs for HT.

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