During the days of slogging with heavy batsmen fine batsmanship of the wristy players like Neil Harvey is missing. Virat Kohli is a rare talent in that category. There is no point comparing him with Joe Root, Steve Smith who have less talent.
In respect of wristy batsmen very few in numbers are there in modern cricket. Virat Kohli is one of those gifted cricketers who is a treat for the eyes in test matches, one dayers and T20s. He is effortless and has strokes all across the field.
There is general tendency of comparing Virat Kohli with Joe Root of England and Steve Smith of Australia. This comparison is useless. Firstly Joe Root of England has not been tested in Indian soil and the pitches of the sub-continent. It is difficult to say whether he will be in a position to tackle spin bowling in slow pitches.
As far as Steve Smith is concerned, he has good footwork against spin.
But he has a tendency of stepping out against spin bowlers too many times in matches. His entire skill and technique flopped when he played orthodox spin bowling of Herath during Sri Lankan tour. Australia lost to Sri Lanka 3-0 in the 3 tests, and one of the major reasons of Australia’s downfall was the inconsistency of Steve Smith.
Virat Kohli, in comparison is a different cricketer altogether. Right from cover drives to straight drives, flickshots to sweeps he has all the strokes in his armoury. He has fantastic average and strike rate in one dayers and T20s. But he never slogs. All his runs come from cricketing shots. His square cuts, pull shots, drives are a treat to watch. In a short career he had already scored more than 7300 runs. If he can stay fit for the next 5 years, he will definitely break all the records of Sachin Tendulkar.
In International cricket, the success of sloggers had stopped the wristy players to show their skills. There was a time there were many wristy batsmen in the world. In India Gundappa Viswanath was a very stylish bat. Both in the off-side his square cuts enchanted viewers, at the same time his leg side flicks were a treat to watch. He scored more than 6000 runs in test cricket. He was over-shadowed by the copybook cricket of genius of genius Sunil Gavaskar. Otherwise he would have been a super star.
In the 1980s, Mohammad Azharuddin was wristy. He scored 3 centuries in his first 3 tests. In the 1990s, VVS Laxman showed wristy shots. His batting was tested in the hard bouncy wickets of Australia and South Africa. He scored more then 8500 runs in test matches and is considered one of the 3 pillars of Indian batting after Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.
In respect of other teams, Pakistan’s Zahir Abbas was a stylish batsman. He also had tall height. So he could use the crease very well against spin. His drives and pulls were a treat for the eyes. Australia’s Mark Waugh in the recent past was very stylish batsman. His one-side glance was one of the best shots of the decade. Mark Waugh scored 8500 runs in one-dayers and more than 8000 runs in tests. His talent was overshadowed by the bravery of his twin brother Steve Waugh. Steve scored 10900 runs in test cricket and his bat always talked when Australia was facing collapse. Steve was a good puller and hooker and also played the sweep shot very well. But Mark Waugh’s cover drives, late cuts, flick shots, glances were more dignified and showy.
Sri Lankan batmen Roy Dias in the past and Aravinda De Silva, Jayavardhana and Sangakarra were wristy. They could work the ball in any part of the field. England’s David Gower being a left hander was a stylish player.
There was eminent style in the batting of Sir Vivian Richards. Even his blocks were a treat for the eyes. It was just because his pulls and hooks and hard hits took the world by storm, his fine shots like glances, cover drivers got less publicity. Same was the case with Brian Lara. His backfoot strokes were a treat to the eyes. West Indies previously gave birth to wristy players like Sir Frank Worrell, Everten Weekes and Rohan Kanhai. Kanhai had a sleeping sweet shot, where he almost slept over the crease to hit his shot.
Australia’s Neil Harvey was considered the most stylish batsmen to every grace cricket. His wristy shots almost made people feel, that the bat went off like a spring when he delivered the shots. He gave birth to new strokes like mastupian late cut, which he played very late. Norman O Neil of Australia was also equally stylish.
Martin Crowe od New Zealand was also a wristy batsman whom spectators loved a lot. Crowe pulled and drove the ball to every part of the park.
In recent years, due to T20 overs batsmen have a tendency to hit the ball too hard. So the skills for working the balls had reduced down. Wristy batsmen like Saeed Anwar are missing these days.
As far as Virat Kohli’s competitors, Steve Smith, Joe Root and Kane Williamson are no match. None of these 3 batsmen can play the flick shot with the level of elegance of Virat Kohli. None of them cut or pull the ball with the same level of effortlessness as Virat Kohli. It is sad that Steve Smith even after facing Hazzlewood, Starc at the nets, Joe Root after facing Anderson, Broad in the nets, and Kane Williamson after facing Boult, Southee in the nets, don’t have the defence technique like that of Virat Kohli.
These days Virat Kohli spends a lot of energy for the IPL matches where he captains the team Royal Challengers Bengaluru. He should concentrate more on test match cricket. He is a cricketer who has the potentiality of scoring 15000 runs in test matches, 15000 runs in one day internationals and 10000 runs in T20s.
Eminent bowlers in the world like Anderson, Dale Steyn, Herath, Starc find a great challenge to bowl to Virat Kohli and viewers find the duals very interesting whenever India meet these teams.
Virat Kohli should do justice to his immense talent.
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