‘Would back Williamson ahead of Kohli’ in tougher batting conditions: Former New Zealand great Glenn Turner
One of the biggest debates in modern day cricket has been to choose the best batsman of the current generation from a pool of highly talented cricketers. Based on their early performances and rise at the beginning of the last decade, India’s Virat Kohli, Australia’s Steve Smith, England’s Joe Root and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson formed this elite group whom everyone was excited about.
While Kohli cemented his place as the best in the business in white ball cricket by the sheer dint of hard work and consistency, Smith emerged as the leader of the pack in Test cricket by amassing a mountain of runs. Root and Williamson have continued to impress by their class and quality but Kohli and Smith have taken the headlines.
In the second half of the decade, after Kohli took over as captain of India in Test cricket and then in white ball cricket, his performance with the bat in Test matches improved manifold. He conquered his demons in England and established himself as a quality batsman across formats.
But after a Test series loss in New Zealand at the start of the year, where Kohli failed to fire, there is some chatter again about his ability to bat in difficult conditions. Former New Zealand captain and batting great Glenn Turner has said that he backs Kiwi captain Williamson over Kohli when it comes to batting on challenging surfaces. Turner explained that Kohli was brought up on pitches that did not seam a lot, while it was the opposite for Williamson.
“The significant differences between talented batsmen are generated by the playing conditions they were brought up on, along with their personalities,” the 73-year-old Turner told The Telegraph from Dunedin as per a report in Telegraph India.
“Kohli is less likely to have been exposed early in his development to seaming pitches and the ball continuing to swing for extended periods, whereas Williamson will have experienced those conditions more often.
“Kohli’s greater exposure to pitches that take turn will have him more accustomed to playing spin better. Conditions less favourable for swing and seamers will also have allowed him more opportunities to become good at aggressively dominating that type of bowling.
“Besides, Kohli’s personality appears to be more naturally aggressive and confrontational than Williamson’s, but that does not leave either party with less determination to succeed. Their main motivation to succeed is contrasting, but so what!
“I would only say that under tougher batting conditions, I would back Williamson ahead of Kohli. Under good batting conditions, Kohli is likely to be more dominant, thereby providing his team with more time to get a favourable result,” Turner explained.
Turner was one of the few batsmen of the 70s and 80s who did well in Test cricket as well as one-day internationals. Turner had a terrific record in both formats as an opening batsman.
He scored 2991 runs in 41 Tests at an average of 44.64. He also scored 1598 runs in 41 ODIs at a stunning average of 47. He has 10 international centuries to his name across Tests and ODIs. He was also the highest run-getter in the inaugural edition of the World Cup in 1975.