Former Australia cricketer Dean Jones has backed the scrutinized India batsman Rohit Sharma to come good in Test cricket only if he works on his defensive skills. Jones feels that Rohit is as technically sound as any top batsman, however, his defensive skills are not up to the mark.
Rohit, who has done reasonably well across all the three formats in India’s last home season, was preferred over Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane in the playing XI against South Africa in the first two Tests that the tourists lost to concede an unassailable 2-0 lead.
The elegant Mumbai batsman though couldn’t quite prove his worth against the fiery Proteas pace attack as he managed to aggregate only 78 runs in 4 innings at a miserable average of 19.50.
"I look at him and he is technically sound. But the first thing that goes wrong in your game is your defense, and his (Sharma's) defensive skills are letting him down," Jones was quoted by PTI as saying
"In Test cricket, 70 percent of batting is about your defence and in one-dayers it is 40 percent. So his defensive skills are letting him down. He has got to take pride in his defensive skills like Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and even Virat Kohli," he added.
Jones also opined that the world No. 1 Test team needed a tough tour like South Africa to figure out their team composition.
"You need to have these kind of tours to sort out your composition, to find out whether they are good enough or not. So may be there has been too much reliance on his (Sharma's) ODI form but all in all you have to have a series like this to find out if they are good enough,” the 56- year-old said.
"If he misses out in the next series, Ravi (Shastri) and Kohli can say 'we gave you the opportunity'," he further asserted.
There are quite a few former Indian cricketers who have criticized the team for not playing a warm-up game in South Africa. However, Jones has a different take on it.
"The modern-day schedules are such that often there is no time for a warm-up game. But why should you only rely on that? I have spoken to the likes of VVS Laxman, who tell me he, Dravid and Tendulkar used to start preparing three months before touring Australia.
"Dealing with the bouncing ball and so on. So the players have got to take the responsibility individually (when it comes to preparation)," said Jones.
Talking about India’s forthcoming assignment, Jones said the England tour will be a stern test for the Indian batsmen.
"Kohli can only make so many runs, you need other players to stand up. England tour is going to be interesting. There are some question marks about the guys' techniques. They can play well. Like Tendulkar and Dravid, you got guys like Rahane and Pujara who stay side on and watch the ball late,” Jones remarked.
"And you got bowlers now who can bowl over 140 kmph and swing the ball. So I would like to judge this Indian team by how they do over the next two-three years. They have had just one bad tour," he concluded.