Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties and a game of fine margin and even after 140 years, we are still not sure on what defines a successful player. They say, in any discipline of life, you need to have talent and everything else will take care of itself. But, the irony is that talent plays a very short role and grind, determination, stubbornness plays a big part in shaping up an individual’s career. Indian cricket is filled with examples of too many talented players not meeting their potential and players with a limited skill set achieving most out of their limited talent and becoming successful on the world stage.
After the turn of the century, Indian cricket became aspirational and wanted to dominate on and off the field and many players came from small towns and villages and made a name for themselves. Robin Uthappa from the state of Karnataka was a breath of fresh air and many big things were expected of him. And, on debut against England at Indore in an ODI, he smacked 86 runs and stamped his authority. Uthappa was a lad who was expressive, had big booming drives and technically was a sound player and coaching staff saw something in him. He was chosen for the 2007 ICC World Cup and was expected to be part of the Test team soon. Uthappa, as any player, got limited chances early in his career, but made full use of it and on the 2007 tour of England and Wales played an innings at The Oval which was reminiscent of 2002 NatWest final and pulled a victory out of nowhere.
Here’s blast from the past: Robin Uthappa going berserk vs Chennai Super Kings
Life is funny and unpredictable and Uthappa learned this the hard way and soon lost his spot in the team after being part of 2007 World T20 and 2008 CB series teams which won the silverware. Uthappa made contributions and would have thought of cementing his place in the side. In 2008, Indian Premier League came to town and Uthappa got decent amount of sum and was part of Mumbai Indians. The form of the Karnataka dasher tapered off and the likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina started to jump ahead of Uthappa and soon lost his spot and was not told by selectors what was he doing wrong and to be fair to him, the selectors or management were not sure about his role in the team and his batting position kept on changing.
So, Uthappa took the boot on his chin and started plundering runs in domestic cricket, IPL and was hoping that his comeback would come, but India had moved on and Uthappa had to content being a player who would make sporadic appearances in case of injury or rest. Uthappa is only 32 years old but sadly last represented India in 2015 and many emerging players (Shreyas Iyer, Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey) have climbed ahead of him and even deep down he must be knowing that making a comeback looks very tough. The game of Uthappa is solid and his first-class record is pretty decent and the hunger is still there.
Any cricketer would tell you that playing Test cricket or scoring an international century is the ultimate high that you can get, but Robbie has neither one and it will sting him when he looks back on his career. The talented yet somewhat unlucky dasher has represented India in 46 ODIs and 13 T20Is and is still slogging it out in Ranji Trophy and would think of another recall to make amends. But, that ship has sailed and despite being talented and confident, Uthappa who made his debut before Kohlis and Sharmas would feel a tinge of sadness about how his career panned out.