Waugh names Kohli as world's best batter | cricketnetwork.com

Waugh names Kohli as world's best batter

09 August 2018

Virat Kohli is international cricket's premier batsman, according to former Australia captain

Virat Kohli's installation as the first India batter to sit atop the ICC's Test rankings since Sachin Tendulkar in 2011 has vindicated the view held by former Australia captain, Steve Waugh.

That Kohli is the best batting technician currently playing international cricket.

In the aftermath of his fearless but ultimately fruitless 149 in India's opening Test loss to England at Edgbaston – almost double the next-highest score in the match – Kohli supplanted banned ex-Australia captain Steve Smith who had been the top-ranked Test batter for more than two and half years.

King Kohli reigns with brilliant century

But even before the current India skipper surged past one of his predecessors, Sunil Gavaskar, on the all-time rankings tally (where Kohli presently sits 14th), Waugh had assessed the 29-year-old's game to be the most complete of any player currently gracing the global arena.

Waugh had previously believed Kohli shared that honour with South Africa's AB de Villiers, but when the Proteas showman announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket last May the baton, in Waugh's learned opinion, passed to India's combative captain.

"He (Kohli) has got the game to survive anywhere, I think he's got the best technique of anyone in world cricket," Waugh told cricket.com.au recently.

"He and AB de Villiers have got the best techniques, and AB de Villiers is not playing Test cricket so that makes him (Kohli) the stand-out player.

"I think Steve Smith is probably the hungriest batsman but he's obviously not playing for 12 months, so Kohli really is the premier batsman in world cricket.

"And he likes the big occasion.

"Like (Brian) Lara and Tendulkar and (Viv) Richards and Javed Miandad, and all the great batsmen, they want the big occasion and that brings out the best in their cricket."

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Kohli's appetite to perform on the grand stage was rarely more apparent than at Birmingham last week.

Facing searing scrutiny due to his repeated failures during his previous Test series in Britain, which yielded him 134 runs at an average of 13.40 with a personal best of 39, Kohli battled bowler-friendly conditions to single-handedly keep his team in a Test they eventually lost by 31 runs.

His 149 in India's first innings was the 22nd century of his 67-match Test tenure to date, and in the seven years since he debuted against West Indies in Jamaica he has scored more Test hundreds than any other batter, either teammate or rival.

Waugh, who has previously described Kohli as perhaps the most competitive cricketer he has witnessed in that he genuinely treats each delivery whether batting or fielding as a potential match-decider, believes the Indian's drive to prevail over opponents is partly what sets him apart.

Yet he also sees that ultra-competitive instinct may loom as Australia's best chance of keeping his rampant run-scoring in check during the four-match Domain Test series that begins in Adelaide on December 6.

Waugh points to Kohli's lean run during the previous Test series between India and Australia on the subcontinent last year when, while leading his team to a 2-1 win after surrendering the series opener, he under-achieved with the bat before injuring his shoulder in a fielding mishap.

Kohli failed to pass 15 in his five completed innings of that campaign before he was sidelined, and finished with just 46 runs at an average of 9.20 against his name.

Steve Waugh dissects Virat Kohli's game

The lowest yield from a multi-Test series in his celebrated career.

By contrast, his rival skipper Smith dominated with the bat and peeled off three centuries from four matches to finish with an aggregate of 499 runs at 71.29 with a high score of 178 not out.

With that blemish to redress, plus his ambition to become the first India captain to lead a series-winning team to Australia where the hosts' two best-performed batters of the era (Smith and David Warner) will be missing, Waugh says Kohli's competitiveness will likely be further amplified.

And that might present an opportunity for an Australia attack expected to feature Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon.

"He'll be putting a bit of pressure on himself, this (a series win in Australia) will be the feather in the cap if he can pull this off," Waugh said.

"Steve Smith had an incredible series (in India last year) and made three centuries and scored about 500 runs, and Virat hardly scored a run.

"So that would have been deflating for him, and he will look to square the ledger when he comes back to Australia.

"I think the best way to control him is for our guys to play really positive cricket, to concentrate on executing the team plans and to score 300-plus runs in our first innings so we can put pressure on their batting line-up.

"Our attack is as good as anyone's and, in our conditions, he'll have to be on his game and particularly if he's chasing some big scores that Australia have put on the board.

"That will put pressure on his batting.

"I think the only thing Australia can do is really control how well we're playing.

"If we play really good cricket, then it's a bit like the last series in India where Steve Smith totally dominated him."

About the Writer

 @ARamseyCricket
@ARamseyCricket

Andrew Ramsey is the senior writer for cricket.com.au. He previously wrote for the Guardian, The Australian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Hindu and Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and the author of The Wrong Line.