This is an era of athletes aging like fine wine, therefore Ishant Sharma getting overlooked for the two-Test series against Sri Lanka is causing an itch among the cricket fans. The popular perception is that he might not be chosen for the Tests ever after. The Test omission seems like a symbolization of handing him out the retirement papers.
Far from all this ruckus, Ishant Sharma could still be relevant and vital for the Indian team. Young fast bowlers lined up to be groomed, with a couple of difficult games cost him his spot in the team. The decision is a completely practical, performance-oriented, and future-based decision.
The Inexperienced Indian bowling side apart from Sharma
It should not be mistaken that Indian Cricket no longer needs his services. From all the conducted research, it is proven that India is not a well-experienced bowling side. Mohammed Shami has capped 57 caps, Umesh Yadav 52, and Jasprit Bumrah 27. Shami and Yadav would turn 32 and 35 this year.
Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj are coming into existence slowly, however impressive they had been. The young crew consisting of Prasidh Krishna and Avesh Khan is yet to experience some first-class cricket. If there is a necessity to rotate them or if there is an unexpected injury, Ishant Sharma could be the one on who Indian Cricket can put their trust. The selection committee crowned Rohit Sharma as the Test captain for the imminent two-match series against Sri Lanka.
Ishant Sharma – The experience and leadership India requires
Ishant Sharma’s experience and knowledge in the field could be indispensable, even if the rest of the bowlers were fit and available. Sharma’s leadership skills could be put to use in grooming the young brigade.
Only a few have managed to transform as dramatically as Ishant Sharma in recent times, perhaps in world cricket. He became one of the fiercest bowlers around by adding subtle layers in his game. His clever way of manipulating the line and length of his bowling always left the batters confused on the ground.
Ishant Sharma averaged 25.3 in 33 Tests during his stint from 2016 to 2021. He could be a thesis paper for research for the new generation.
The 33-year-old simply seemed tired and bothered in his previous two games. No signs of gradual decline were displayed. It is just a matter of sorting out injuries, gaining fitness, taming the untamed body parts, etc.
Injuries were a part of him during the tour to New Zealand in 2020, he twisted his ankle and fractured it when appealing in the follow-through. It takes time for fast bowlers to recover from such Injuries, Ishant Sharma could be going through one such phase.
The road ahead for Ishant Sharma
The pace bowler could take a break, some time off the game, spend some time at the National Cricket Academy rehab, or just fly abroad for a county stint and return. This might help in refreshing his body and mind for the last phase of his career. The process mentioned above could be a rather efficient coping strategy than slogging in the Ranji straightway. If the decision is to stall Ishant Sharma’s career forever, it would be a travesty of justice.
He has a lot to offer from his experience and expertise, only if the Indian Cricket decides to preserve him for the near future. Since he is a Test bowler, not getting drafted for the IPL is a blessing. He could channel all his energy into Test cricket.