Seven. Just seven. That is the number of double centuries four and a half decades of one-day international cricket has witnessed. Three belong to Rohit Gurunath Sharma. Legend Sachin Tendulkar, the only cricketer to accumulate 11,000 ODI runs Chris Gayle, flamboyant Virender Sehwag and ace New Zealander Martin Guptill share the remaining four.
That defines cricketing brilliance of Rohit Sharma. He carries The Midas Touch with the willow for converting 50s into 100s. More so, 100s into a double hundred. With more consistency than anyone else – legends and greats included. Still, there is little commercial conversion for the man possessed with the potential to play a three hundred-run knock in a three hundred-ball innings. He has come closest with the best ever ODI innings of 264.
What ails one of the most competent and most complete batsman of his era for being competent and complete enough to be a brand icon befitting his class? Market experts sight “inconsistency” to be the root cause for lack of commercial conversions for the man who in blue flannels of Team India strikes double tons more than anyone else.
In a career spanning 10 years, Rohit has got to endorse brands like Aristrocrat by VIP luggage, Adidas, Hublot Watches’ Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph edition, Nissan, Ceat Tyres, Lays, Maggi, Nasivion nasal spray and Fair and Lovely. These commercial gains have been interrupted by a certain lack of visibility and consistency to justify the class he possesses and displays as a cricketer.
“Rohit has an opportunity and talent but he needs to be more consistent and dynamic for an overall acceptance in the market,” says Indrani Das Blah, Founder Kwan Entertainment and Marketing Solutions. “He needs to be more consistent, to be playing all three formats of the game.”
Surprisingly enough, according to Blah, a newcomer like Hardik Pandya is getting better acceptance in the market than the seasoned and proven Rohit. “Personality forms a big chunk for endorsements. That’s one aspect you will see in someone like Hardik Pandya, who is getting brands despite being new. He is flamboyant, he is stylish, he supports different hairstyles, different looks.”
Rohit certainly cannot be a Pandya. But he needs to be a people’s man, who is more interactive and forthcoming with his fans, on social media. “You need that persona what Virat has,” says Blah. “He needs to change his off-field perception to some extent. There is not much a marketer (with reference to Rohit’s commercial managers IMG) can do unless a star is not ready to change himself for the market.”
Reliability, confidence, credibility, and assurance are the traits Rohit brings to the fore with his presence on the crease. He, however, needs more consistency to be in headlines. In a competitive commercial world, brands expect their representatives to beat the rivals with a consistent presence that keeps knocking a consumer’s sub-conscious mind uninterruptedly.
Rohit completely lacks that continuity off the field. He needs a long way to go to convert his cricketing strength into commercial success. The market looks for flamboyance of a Virat Kohli, consistency and credibility draw little value.