Many star hitters have taken the stage in World Cricket and wowed the audience with their outstanding performances. From Sir Donald Bradman to Sir Vivian Richards to Sachin Tendulkar, numerous cricketing legends have graced the game and imprinted their dominance on the field.
However, several top-tier players who are today famed for their amazing batting exploits previously struggled to make it in the international stage. These cricketers were unable to excel in the role for which they were given their debuts, but changing their batting position allowed them to resurrect their careers.
Here are three cricketers who have revitalised their careers by switching up their batting order.
Number 1. Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma made his international debut as a middle-order hitter. Though he showed flashes of brilliance throughout forms, consistency evaded him, and as a result, the right-handed hitter was unable to establish himself as a regular member of the squad. During the club’s January 2011 trip to South Africa, team management chose to put him in the opening position, however, the choice backfired as he only scored 29 runs in three innings.
In the ODI series against England in January 2013, Rohit was again given the job as an opener. He took the wind out of the opposition’s sails with a searing half-century. The Nagpur native had an outstanding season at the top of the order, scoring 1196 runs at an average of 52.00 in 28 ODIs in 2013.
In the years after, Rohit has continued to demolish bowling attacks with his marauding bat and has become one of the world’s best opening batsmen. In 241 ODIs, he has scored 9782 runs at an average of 48.91. In T20Is, the Indian captain has scored 3853 runs in 148 matches with a strike rate of 139.24.
Number 2. Steve Smith
Steve Smith made his Australia debut as a leg-spinner in 2010. However, his performances were lacklustre, and he was not given a sustained run with the national team. Smith played four Tests that year and took just three wickets. Though the Sydney-born batsman contributed useful innings at the lower order, his failure to master the spinner’s position worked against him, and he was dismissed from the squad.
Smith’s career took off once he was picked as a legitimate hitter. In the third game of a four-match Test series against India in 2013, he batted in the middle order and had an early impression, hitting 92 runs. However, the flashy batsman gained to attention after scoring 345 runs in five games at an average of 38.33 in The Ashes 2013.
Smith continued to score runs for enjoyment in the years that followed, becoming a pillar of the Australian batting order. Test cricket has been his happy hunting field, with 8647 runs in 92 matches at an astounding average of 60.89. In 139 One-Day Internationals, the seasoned batsman has scored 4917 runs at an average of 45.11.
Number 3. Shoaib Malik
Shoaib Malik made his international debut in 1999 as an off-spinner. Despite early struggles with the ball, he failed to secure a permanent place on the team. However, in 2002, Malik reinvented himself and garnered attention for his newfound skills.
The shift to a higher batting position reinvigorated Malik’s career and in 2002, he played in 12 ODIs, scoring 369 runs with an average of 41.00. Over the years, he established himself as one of Pakistan’s greatest cricketers.
Throughout his ODI career, Malik accumulated 7534 runs in 287 appearances, with a strike rate of 81.90, and took 158 wickets with an economy rate of 4.66. He retired from the 50-over format in 2019, but remained a dominant force in T20Is, accumulating 2435 runs in 124 matches with a strike rate of 125.64, and taking 28 wickets for Pakistan.