Robin Uthappa: World Cricket's Batsman of the Month, May 2014

Antoinette MullerFeatured ColumnistJune 2, 2014

India's batsman Robin Uthappa plays a shot off South Africa's bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe, unseen, during the Twenty20 International cricket match at the Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday, March 30, 2012. (AP Photo/ Themba Hadebe)
Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

Robin Uthappa finished as this year's leading run scorer in the Indian Premier League.

With 660 runs at an average of 44.00, including five fifties, he was instrumental in KKR's batting line-up. Uthappa also registered 10 consecutive scores of 40 or more; he has also earned himself a recall to the Indian national team.

Ajit Solanki/Associated Press

But it has not been an easy journey to here. Uthappa has had to adjust the way he bats. He has converted from being a player with a bottom-handed grip to a top-handed one, a process that has been two years in the making.

After leaving Bangalore for Mumbai, he met up with Pravin Amre, the man who would become his personal batting coach.

Since Uthappa had played a certain way for 10 years, it was a case of starting completely from scratch. It was a case of "how badly do you want this" for Uthappa. He had to learn to walk all over again. It was tough, but most importantly, he was willing to do it.

In an interview with FirstPost, Amre said:

I really didn't do anything. He moved to Mumbai, he worked hard for two years, it was no overnight success story, he worked hard every day without breaks, he was completely open to my suggestions and he just wanted to be back.

So this was all about Uthappa and his desire to get back to his best. Many players talk about doing the right thing but when they crash, they find it hard to re-dedicate themselves. He has done that.

That change in grip allowed Uthappa to drive better through the covers and down the ground. His knocks in this year's IPL, although often destructive, have been well composed and consisted of many classy shots.

His coach also helped him change his trigger movement. While initially susceptible to getting bowled because he got so far back in his crease, his coach encouraged him to come forward and be more balanced doing so.

Although he had to start from scratch to transform his approach, Uthappa has also had a few things added on. While he previously favoured the midwicket area, he is now more capable of playing shots all around the ground.

Prior to the IPL, the pair went on a 15-day camp to add the final tweaks to the 26-year-old's game. That hard work has now paid off. Not only does he have a winners' medal, he also has the Orange Cap.

Equally important to Uthappa's game is that he understands the importance of rotating the strike. He is as happy to take singles as he is hitting stylish fours.

Slogging sixes is not really part of his arsenal. He hit just 18 sixes in total in the tournament but was more than happy to hammer the fours—hitting 74 in total, more than any other batsman in the top run-scorers list. 

While he still has much to prove, Uthappa has shown that he has the willingness to learn and progress. He spends at least three hours a day practising.

Although he might not be as naturally gifted as some other players, with his work ethic Uthappa should undergo a renaissance of his career if he keeps it up.