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Saturday, Nov 23, 2019

Missing County stint won’t hurt, Virat Kohli is mentally strong enough: Viv Richards

Former West Indies captain Sir Vivian Richards has backed Virat Kohli to do well in England despite missing out on a County stint with Surrey with a neck injury, saying he is mentally tough .

cricket Updated: May 27, 2018 09:49 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Virat Kohli had a wretched tour of England in 2014 scoring 134 runs in 10 innings.
Virat Kohli had a wretched tour of England in 2014 scoring 134 runs in 10 innings.(Getty Images)

He may have turned 66 this March but the years still don’t show on Sir Viv Richards. Always the champ who speaks from his heart, the Caribbean legend donned a different role on a blistering Delhi summer afternoon, asking parents to send their wards to the American University of Antigua College of Medicine, a part of the Manipal group.

From the looks of it, they didn’t need much assurance when the legend put his arm around their shoulders asking them not to worry about their future. Retired yet busy, he now spends almost six months at home with the rest of the year still devoted to cricket. And so it didn’t take much time for him to open his heart on Virat Kohli, the future of cricket, the ball tampering scandal and why he would have MS Dhoni play poker for him.


How have you seen Virat Kohli evolve as captain in the past three years?

I love aggression. My whole style was aggression. I love Virat for that. I think one of the more important confrontations I have seen was when Virat scored four centuries in Australia against the best bowling attack. That’s the best way to respond man! If the Indian team had taken a leaf out of his book, I believe they could have won the series.

READ | Three Test matches featuring Indian cricket team were fixed, claims Al Jazeera sting

Would you say the same thing happened in South Africa as well?

I think so. Virat was on top of his game. His leadership was pretty good. When you have a leader leading from the front, that’s always great. I think Virat does that as good as any.

England and Australia seem to be in flux. Is this India’s best chance to beat them in their backyard?

England would be thinking India haven’t travelled that well. I don’t think that is true. I remember Cheteshwar Pujara playing that marathon knock in Johannesburg. You have guys who can do it. I think it’s a great opportunity. Virat will be looking to amend his last outing in England. And I will back him.

Even though he is missing out on a stint at Surrey due to injury?

I would have loved to see him play County. I think that was a wise move. I think he was aware of what took place last time. That’s good thinking. But it’s disappointing now that he can’t do that. But I think he is strong enough mentally. And I am backing him to do well.

We now have T10 and 100-ball tournaments. Where will this downsizing end?

Let’s keep our feet on the ground at present. Let’s not get carried away with all these various formats. What’s going to happen in England is just to rival what someone else is trying to do. Let us stick to the basics. Let’s not venture too much into experiment at this stage. Let us keep it simple. Sooner or later we might have a one-over match! Let us have some respect for the game.

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India are not playing pink ball Test and Australia are not willing to host Bangladesh since they claim it is not profitable. Don’t you think it threatens Test cricket’s existence even more?

If Australia are not willing to host Bangladesh, how are we going to improve them to a standard? It’s not football. We don’t have a multitude of teams. This is just a small knit unit. Let us try and help one another as best as we can. Because what you see now, the same thing used to be said in the West Indies of the past. But no one acted on it. It wasn’t viable to have a series against India in the Caribbean. We used to finish Tests in two and a half days. Was that viable for us? We are too small a community to have such prejudices. To be fair until you can get a pink ball that’s durable and suitable enough, if that’s going to be the saviour, then why not? The things that can help preserve the game, let’s look in that direction. Cricket is much more than T20. What will become of the Bradmans, the Tendulkars or the Sunny Gavaskars if we look up to a T20 player and say ‘Hey this is what cricket represents’? This is another half of cricket. The man stuff is what Sunny Gavaskar did against the best fast bowling attack in the world.

Your reaction after hearing about the ball tampering scandal?

Boys will be boys. That (incident) was pretty sad in my opinion. Especially with the cameras at so many angles, that for me wasn’t smart. That was so dumb. And now that we see the dumbness, let them pay. I love Steve Smith. He had a blunder. But let’s move ahead. That was a gloomy day. We don’t need that in the game. If you compete hard enough you can be in the winning circle. To cheat and do it --- that to me is the lowest of the low.

You believe the coach didn’t know?

That is totally laughable.

Coming to the IPL, are you surprised the way spinners are becoming almost invincible?

I am. If you have the orthodox individuals, it’s easier. I just saw Rashid Khan that day. All of a sudden, guys started to feel for the ball, not sure which way it’s going to go. When you are not picking, you can’t be aggressive.

You must be proud the way MS Dhoni has led quite an experienced but not necessarily a young CSK to the IPL finals.

I am. If I had a guy play poker for me, he would be the guy. No one knows what he is thinking. Experience must help, having all these guys in the team. Seven finals? You can’t ask for more. Having that balance of youth and experience and having a clever head like MS must be of great help to the Chennai team.

READ | India’s Galle Test vs Sri Lanka in 2017 was fixed, claims Al Jazeera report

We have heard so many former players criticise the way West Indies cricket is run. And yet we don’t see many of them become administrators. Why?

We had Joel Garner. I will give just one example. He was part of the board to begin with. He was going to run against the president. But something got in their way where the president maybe got in his ears. He didn’t run against him anymore. The president continued his term and Joel Garner became manager of the West Indies team. You read between the lines? West Indies board is a boys’ club. They haven’t had the best advice. Michael Holding was always critical. If you are saying something critical, you are pushed aside. And I am not going to stop saying.