Kepler Wessels says India skipper Virat Kohli gets the best out of his players
Kepler Wessels, the former South Africa skipper, warns against under-estimating the current pace attack, but feels the Indian cricket team have in the past adapted to the conditions.Updated: Jan 04, 2018, 08:55 IST
Kepler Wessels is a rare cricketer who played for two countries – South Africa and Australia. The opener was part of South Africa’s first tour in the post-Apartheid era, under Clive Rice, to India in 1991. He then led the side on India’s first Test tour of South Africa, in late 1992.
In a freewheeling chat with Hindustan Times, Wessels recalled his first full Test series against India 25 years ago and elaborated on why he likes Virat Kohli as skipper.
How do you look back at that first Test series against India?
It was very exciting because it was South Africa’s first full Test series back on the international stage and India had a good side, some really good players. It was a competitive series. I think the result (1-0) was fair and it was a good series to be part of.
Were you confident of South Africa doing so well despite being away from international cricket for 22 years?
Definitely. We had a good team and a good bowling attack, and in South African conditions we were always going to be competitive. We had already played one Test against West Indies (in Barbados), so it wasn’t like we were coming in completely from the cold.
How has the India-South Africa rivalry evolved over the years?
It’s been interesting because it has always been slanted in favour of the home team. Just in the last series in South Africa, India improved quite a lot, especially how the batsman applied themselves; and they started to look better under South African conditions.
Compared to his predecessors, what do you make of Virat Kohli as captain?
I think he is very good. He brings good aggression to the entire Indian team. He leads from the front, and makes runs when the team comes under pressure. He gets the best out of his players, so I like his style.
Is it fair to say the South Africa team of the 1990s had a better pace attack?
This pace attack is very competitive. If all are fit, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, they compare very well with the pace attacks of the 90s that had the likes of Allan Donald, Fanie de Villiers and Brett Schultz.
Will Steyn be as effective as he was in the past? How long do you see him playing?
I saw him play recently in domestic T20 matches. He was excellent. I wasn’t expecting him to bowl as fast. He was getting it up to 140kph and physically to me, he looked stronger than he was prior to his (shoulder) injury. He hasn’t played a Test in a while, so we have to see how he goes about that. He is desperately keen to play. I feel he has a good couple of years left in him.
With BCCI looking to play more Tests against South Africa, Australia and England, are we finally looking at the creation of a two-tiered Test structure?
It’s hard to say. It’s always good when the stronger Test nations play against one another regularly. I’m not saying the weaker nations shouldn’t play, but it’s a good thing. It will be good for Indian cricket if they play more outside India. That will help them develop their players, particularly their batting technique and the bowlers as well. If that does happen, it’s good for Test cricket.
With Day-Night Tests and four-day Tests happening, what is the future of Test cricket?
I’m hoping it’s good. I like T20 and all that stuff, but as a traditionalist, I think the established Test series like the Ashes will continue to be popular. The challenge is to make sure the rest of it is still workable. A lot of work needs to be done in Day-Night Tests, but it probably has a place and hopefully can get the interest going.