Here’s an incredibly obvious fact that you’re probably going to want me to expand on a little bit: Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are different people.
I don’t imagine anyone has ever actually suggested they are the same person, but there’s a connection there; it’s hard to avoid comparing them. They’re a similar age and for quite a while no-one knew which of them was going to become The Big Man of Indian Batting.
Kohli eventually took that title – unquestionably – but Sharma is still there, nearby, from time to time playing an innings that none of us can entirely get our heads around. Because of his great-but-not-quite-as-great-as-Kohli overall record, it’s tempting to think of this current version of Rohit Sharma as being Virat Kohli, only less so. But that is precisely what I am saying: Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are different people.
I wrote a thing about Virat Kohli’s lifestyle once. There’s no need to recap it in any great depth because pretty much everything the man does boils down to the philosophy, ‘If there’s something I can do that might help me play cricket better, I am going to do that thing.’
I think most of us can appreciate the merits of that. I sometimes think to myself that I’m going to go ‘all-in’ in pursuit of fitness. But then I think, well, no, I’m not going to do any stretching because you’ve got to draw the line somewhere. And I also think that I’m still going to eat whatever I want after exercise because I’ve earned it then, haven’t I? And I’m not going to go to bed at 9pm either, because I want to watch another episode of Cricket Fever, the Netflix documentary about the Mumbai Indians. And that beer’s not going to drink itself, is it?
Rohit Sharma is the captain of Mumbai Indians and when I watched the series earlier this year, it struck me that he too looked like a man who ate what he wanted after exercise – a lifestyle choice that is maybe a little more costly when your job basically involves doing exercise.
Sharma isn’t fat, but the elasticated waistband is his friend. There’s a softness of face and just a hint of jowl about him – ‘a batting helmet hides a multitude of sins,’ as the old saying goes.
Sharma eats oats for breakfast, apparently. He has advised people that when the taste becomes bearable, “then you may want to eat it in large quantities,” which is a magnificent tip for anyone looking to keep the weight off.
There was also an old interview with Cricinfo where he said that he once ate 25 fried eggs in one sitting. (Unbelievably, they didn’t seem to question him any further on this.)
This is a fascinating thing to think about. Sharma’s stated in other interviews that he can’t cook; that he hasn’t even tried to since he burnt an omelette and stuck it to the pan. So clearly someone else made the 25 fried eggs.
You’d assume that he didn’t plan on eating 25 fried eggs at the outset. You can’t imagine he got up in the morning and thought to himself, ‘What shall I have for breakfast today? Shall I have oats or toast maybe? Or do I fancy 25 fried eggs,’
You don’t go downstairs and ask the hotel restaurant staff to fry you 25 eggs, do you? Do you? I don’t think you do.
But the only other option, really, is that he just kept ordering more and more fried eggs, which is almost equally improbable. In that scenario, he’d start with three eggs and then when he’d finished those, he’d say to whatever poor soul was manning the frying pan, “Hey, could you maybe fry me two more eggs – it feels like a five fried eggs morning,” and then when he’d eaten those, he’d say, “Yeah, maybe two more, actually – it’s a seven egg day,” and on and on until he’d eaten 25 fried eggs.
Again, that temptation to compare Sharma to Kohli leads to the conclusion that maybe the former would have cracked Test cricket if he was the kind of guy who did ‘priming sessions’ in the gym before each match instead of bingeing on fried eggs. But, to reiterate, Rohit Sharma is not Virat Kohli.
To watch Rohit Sharma make 140 against Pakistan was to watch someone make 140 in the most highly-pressured match there is. Virat Kohli may want to leave no stone unturned in his preparation, but perhaps Rohit Sharma finds that approach counterproductive. Maybe he finds that the relentless turning of stones makes everything too big in his head and then when it comes to batting, he freezes.
Rohit Sharma is only 32, but he looks like the kind of man who’s going to balloon as soon as he stops playing cricket. It’s easy to say he should get himself down to six per cent body fat and do more Olympic lifting, but who knows that would do to him psychologically.
Rohit Sharma made 140 in a World Cup match against Pakistan and he is not Virat Kohli.
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