Virat Kohli or Steve Smith? AB de Villiers gives unique answer; compares them with Federer, Nadal
Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers and arguably one of the greatest of the modern era himself, was the latest to put on the hot seat with the Virat Kohli or Steve Smith question. De Villiers, just like his laps and paddles gave an unconventional answer.Updated: May 12, 2020, 12:15 IST
Virat Kohli vs Steve Smith has quickly risen to the stature of Sachin Tendulkar vs Brian Lara. For two decades - 1990s and 2000s - cricket pundits, former and current cricketers were always asked to chose between Tendulkar and Lara. While we still search a definite answer to that, India’s Virat Kohli and Australia’s Steve Smith gave us a new battle to look forward to. Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers and arguably one of the greatest of the modern era himself, was the latest to put on the hot seat with the Virat Kohli or Steve Smith question. De Villiers, just like his laps and paddles gave an unconventional answer.
De Villiers did not clearly mention who he thinks is the better batsman but compared them with Tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The South African talisman said Virat Kohli’s natural talent makes him a cricketing equivalent of Roger Federer while Steve Smith’s mental fortitude matches that of Rafael Nadal
In an instagram chat with former Zimbabwe seamer Pommie Mbangwa, de Villiers spoke about the two batsmen, who are easily the game’s biggest crowd-pullers right now.
“It’s a difficult one, but Virat is definitely the more natural ball-striker, there’s no doubt about that,” de Villiers said during his interaction on ‘Sports Hurricane’.
“In tennis terms, I’d say he’s more like a (Roger) Federer whereas Smith is like a (Rafael) Nadal. Smith is mentally very strong and figures out a way of scoring runs - he doesn’t look natural, but he ends up writing records and doing amazing things at the crease. “I think mentally, Smith is one of the best I have ever seen. Virat has also scored runs all over the world and won games under pressure,” de Villiers,himself a modern day great, said.
Steve Smith currently holds the top spot in ICC rankings for batsmen in Test cricket followed by Virat Kohli. The Indian captain is No.1-ranked batsman in ODIs and he finds himself at No.10 in T20Is.
Kohli averages over close to 60 in ODIs with 43 hundreds - the second most - and 11867 runs. In Test cricket he has 7240 runs in 83 matches with 27 hundreds.
Smith, on the other hand, has 7227 runs in 73 Tests at an average of 62.84 so far.
The world knows Kohli as a prolific cricketer but for de Villiers, he is a friend, who has interests beyond cricket and is spiritual at one level.
“He’s much deeper than just a cricket player...I think most people realise after a while that there’s more to life than just cricket,” de Villiers said. “...Virat’s always been a thinker, he experiments (with) a lot of things, he loves trying new things out - gym wise, what he puts in his mouth. He thinks a lot about life after life - what’s to come, the different religions, we talk about everything.”
IPL, for de Villiers, is not just a tournament but also about friendships that he cherishes.
“Obviously, when it comes to the IPL in India, it’s been more than friendship,” De Villiers said, when asked who his best friends in cricket are.
“Virat obviously - not only during the IPL, we chat throughout the year, which means it’s different than just the IPL or cricketing friendship.”