'I decided I was not going to watch the World Cup': Rohit Sharma

Sports |  IANS  | Published :

Barbados, Aug 7 (IANS) The anticipation for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 is reaching fever pitch as the prestigious Trophy Tour continues its global journey, captivating the hearts of fans around the world.

The picturesque shores of Barbados witnessed the trophy's arrival recently, leaving fans and players alike in awe of its magnificence. 

Led by the inspiring captain Rohit Sharma, the Indian team had the privilege of getting a first-hand look at the silverware, an experience that served as a catalyst for the build-up to the highly anticipated marquee tournament that will get underway in India from October 5 – November 19, 2023. 

With every visit, the Trophy Tour is leaving an indelible mark, signifying the incredible global appeal of the World Cup. As the excitement builds and the anticipation grows, all eyes will be on that One Day, where cricketing glory awaits the nation that will lift the Trophy.

Speaking to ICC, Rohit Sharma expressed how he had never seen the trophy so closely before, even though he missed being part of the victorious squad in 2011. 

He said, “I’ve never seen it so close. Even when we won in 2011, I was not part of the squad. But yeah, it looks beautiful, so many memories behind the trophy as well, the past, the history. Yeah, so, it looks beautiful and hopefully we can lift it, fingers crossed.”

As Rohit Sharma fondly reminisced about his memories from various World Cups over the years, he demonstrated the enduring impact the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup has on players and fans. 

He recalled his memories of the World Cup, “Yeah, there’s plenty actually. I was born in 87’, so I remember the 92’ World Cup which Pakistan won. But I remember India, that famous Ajay Jadeja’s catch, to dismiss Alan Border if I’m not wrong. I remember that because actually it was stuck in everyone’s mind, it took fielding to the next level. And obviously, the 96’ World cup which was played back home, unfortunately we lost in the semi-finals, but I remember every little moment of all the World Cups, 99’ as well, the first thing that comes to my mind is that Herschelle Gibbs catch which cost them the World Cup I believe.

“In 2003, India played really well up until the finals. You know, Sachin Tendulkar was amazing with the bat, scored so many runs. And then comes the 2007 World Cup where we didn’t have a great time, didn’t even qualify after the league stage, so that was quite unfortunate. 2011 was a memorable one for all of us, I remember watching it from home, every single match, every single ball which was being bowled and that was being played. There were two kinds of emotions, one was obviously I was not a part of it, so I was a little disappointed. 

“I decided I was not going to watch the World Cup, but again, the second memory I remember was that India was playing so well, quarter-finals onwards. You know, the big quarter-final was against Pakistan. I know how the pressure is on all these players when playing these games. I can only imagine the pressure what each player must have gone through at that time, and then the semi-finals against Australia. It was a brilliant finish by Yuvi and Raina at the end. And 2015 and 2019, I was a part of it, which felt really good to play the World Cup. We went to the semi-finals, tried everything we could to go to the finals and play well in the finals, but again, a very unfortunate incident where we couldn’t go through to the finals.

"But hopefully, you know, we are back home again, so hopefully we can turn things around and it’s still a long way to go. And you know you can’t win the World Cup in one or two days. You got to play well for an entire month, month and a half, and be consistent. So you know, we are trying everything we can, from our perspective to make sure we are ready for the World Cup.”

Reflecting on the challenges posed by the limited-overs format, Rohit shared his mindset before the 2019 World Cup. The dynamic captain emphasised the importance of approaching each day as a fresh start, acknowledging that the limited-overs format demands a different level of mental and physical readiness. 

“Yeah, I know every day is a fresh day. Every day is a fresh start, it’s not like Test match cricket where you have the momentum with you and you carry the momentum to the next day. One-day cricket, limited overs format is like that, that’s where the challenge comes. You’ve to start fresh every day and you know that’s where I was. I was in a good mind space, I was feeling really good about my cricket, prepared really well before the World Cup and when you’re heading into a tournament like that, all you want to do is start well, mentally and physically fresh and then everything falls into place. So, I started really well in that tournament, got a hundred in the first game, and then for me, it was all about carrying that forward. Obviously, staying in the present was quite crucial for me as well, not thinking about what has happened in the past, obviously you take a lot of confidence about what you’ve done in the past, but starting afresh and starting anew was very important. I was in a great mind space at that point in time and looking forward to creating that again.”

With the Trophy Tour serving as a beacon of excitement and anticipation, Rohit Sharma expressed his eagerness to play in various venues across India. 

“I know for a fact that every ground, every venue that we will be travelling to will get massive support. You know, it’s the World Cup, so everyone is looking forward to this and the World Cup coming back to India after 12 years… you know 2011 was the last time we played a 50-over World Cup. We played a 20-over World Cup in 2016 but a 50-over World Cup after 12 years in the country, people are quite excited and we can see the buzz already back home. I’ll be looking forward to playing in all venues. They all have their own charm and specialty, so I would like to embrace that.”

The excitement of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Trophy Tour extended beyond the Caribbean shores, as the Trophy visited two iconic sporting teams in the United States of America. In New York, the Trophy endured a summer storm at the home plate before the Subway Series encounter between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. Cricket's history in the USA was celebrated with a visit to the Staten Island Cricket Club, which has proudly played at its home ground for an impressive 150 years. The tour also included delightful stops at the bustling Times Square and scenic Central Park, where surprised tourists posed for pictures with the iconic trophy.

The tour's journey further extended to Papua New Guinea, where the World Cup Trophy received a heart-warming reception from over 2000 locals in Gomore Village, located an hour south-east of the capital, Port Moresby. The vibrant enthusiasm for the sport was evident during the exhibition fixture between the PNG Academy and a combined Central Province team, allowing spectators to revel in thrilling cricket action. 

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