Cricket’s moniker of being a gentleman’s game had a lot to do with the low level of physicality involved with respect to other sports. Even in the realm of other supposedly non-contact sports. No wonder cricketers come in all shapes and sizes. The examples of sheer physicality in cricket have been limited to certain pace bowlers running in with an intention to knock either the stumps or the batsman out.
However, it is one thing to have the built to gallop with purpose, bend your back and release the ball with all the strength the shoulder and the wrist could muster. But, it requires something else to stand fearlessly at the other end, to not flinch as a hard object capable of causing immense pain nears ever so close. Hence, the prominent examples of alpha-masculinity in cricket have been the batsmen who were akin to a formula one driver, living on the edge, unafraid of bodily harm. And nothing is more alpha than a pull shot dismissing the rock thrown with sharp focus and brute force. From Ian Chappell to Viv Richards, the ability to pull or hook the ball has set the alphas apart.
In contemporary cricket, the same holds for Rohit Sharma. Even in his early days of struggle, Rohit’s comfort with pace and bounce stood out. Since he has become a permanent feature in India’s XI in both white-ball formats in June 2013, no other batsman in the world has scored more runs via the pull. Hardly anyone comes close to his strike rate of 260+ on these shots in both formats.
Thus, when Rohit sees a ball pitched in the bowler’s half, his hands instinctively take over to unleash the shot that sets him apart. But, so far as a Test opener, the habit has looked more like an addiction and not in a good way.