Shreyas Iyer still hasn't bent the peak on his cap. It's flat and straight, which almost no cricketers don't correct. You can see them handed their Test caps and straight away so many of the men the peak even before they put them on the first time. Iyer's is still straight, in the style he wants.
Shreyas Iyer is from Mumbai, just to succeed there with the bat is a victory. The Oval Maidan is full of young batters with high front elbows who can open the face to leg spinners from leg stump. To make it past that talent is special.
And then to make it for India, that's another hurdle. To get picked as a batter for India means you have already overcome so much. Other countries still throw in young talents who are often unproven or give caps to players with good recent records. To play for India, especially with the bat, it's a victory no matter your age.
And as gifted as he is, on the way here he missed out on a World Cup because of Covid, and then lost his IPL captaincy because of an injury that made him cry. And could have seriously derailed his career.
And there has always been a feeling that Iyer has been kept out of the team, and that he might slip into bad habits playing in first class cricket. That he needs to be protected. Although, that was slightly negated by the fact he doesn't play in first class cricket anymore.
I discussed it in a video where I compared him to Graeme Hick.
But it also means he has hit Test cricket at the age of 26, which is where he should be nearing his peak as a better. Most players of his talent would be in the team earlier, which can be good and bad. You learn the game from playing it at Test level, but you are also scarred by failing more as a young person.
Iyer has been through the ups and downs before coming into the Test team. Really other than tweaks he will need to make to his game for outside Asia, he's a complete adult batter. So far he's played 46 games outside Asia in his professional career. You'd probably want more, but it's also not nothing. Other than a rough go of it on the Indian A tour of 2018, he's done well away from home.
This innings had great signs that correlated with his first class record. A first class strike rate of 80 is great, but if you try to strike at that level in Tests, chances are you will fail - regardless of your talent.
But Iyer didn't go after all bowlers. To start with, in the first innings it was mostly the left-arm finger spinners, and then when Jamieson got tired. That's not hitting; it's good batting. In the second innings he seemed to wait for the ball to go soft, again, excellent reading of what he needed to do. When he was with Saha, and the game was in the balance, he manipulated the strike for a while. Not in an overt way, either. Strike control on the downlow.
The second innings impressed me more than the first one, and it reminded me of Joe Root's debut for its assurance. Root was younger, less experienced, and it was an away innings, but you saw him, and it was hard to see how he wouldn't play for England for a decade. Iyer's is at home, but these aren't cheap runs, he earned them. And in-game where only he has a hundred so far, and there are five 50s, and he has one of them; it's hard not to be a fan.
This wicket isn't bad, but it's tough, gritty, and a bit shifty. And really only Young, Latham and Ashwin have looked as composed as him.
And on top of his obstacles to get here, him having success hasn't been easy either. Like to score his hundred, he had some bowlers to face. Tim Southee is now clearly one of the best seamers we've ever seen in Asia. Kyle Jamieson is still averaging a barely believable mark.
And Iyer's last game was 12 Feb 2019. The ones before that were in 2018. I don't even remember things back that far. And the quality of bowling in his last first class hundred was not quite the same; Hardik Pandya opened the bowling.
As I said in the video above, he profiles like a young Ajinkya Rahane. But he plays nothing like him on the field. But while many fans only want to remember Rahane his last few tortured years, he was an incredible travelling batter for India. Will Iyer be that. Who knows, fun times ahead. Am especially looking forward to the people who called for him to replace Rahane to turn on him when he has struggles with form.
Weirdly, there is still a chance, however small, of Iyer being dropped for Rahane or Pujara for the next Test.
It would be tough to overcome if that happened, but that's what Iyer has been doing for a long time.
But, even if that happens, and something else comes in his way, Iyer will probably be ok. There's a great story from his third first class match, which also happened to be at Green Park in Kanpur. Mumbai fall to 67/5, and out in the middle is Iyer, who is wearing Shardul Thakar's kit because he left his back at the hotel. But even with the panic of not having his kit, and the wickets tumbling all around him, he takes on Praveen Kumar, and scores a near run a ball 75 and Mumbai win the game.
His first-innings hundred here wasn't as dramatic, but India had lost wickets, and Iyer looked very nervous for a few balls. But then he just went about putting together a hundred with the Indian middle and lower order.
He got the best of the conditions in that innings. In this game, from overs 1-30, the average has been 36. From overs 30-80, it's been 80, and then with the second new ball, it's 17. In the innings he was in at the eye of the storm. Agarwal and Jadeja were taken in an over. And if there was a change in how he batted because of it, I didn't see it. This was the better knock, but together, they're spectacular.
And a bit like the straight cap, Iyer has just batted as he saw fit from the start. His way, his style, his Test.