The buzz and anticipation concerning India’s Test tour of England is pretty much deafening. Cricket fans are eagerly waiting to see the No.1 Test side getting tested on typical English pitches and how the hosts will bounce back after the disastrous tours of Australia and New Zealand.
Besides, the fans are keen to witness the showdown between two of world’s best batsmen – Virat Kohli and Joe Root. While the Indian captain is currently ranked at the second spot in ICC Test rankings for batsmen, the England skipper is placed at the third position.
Despite his awe-inspiring record all over the world, Virat hasn’t been able to perform at his best in red-ball cricket on English soil. With just 134 runs in five Test matches at a dismal average of 13.40, doing well in England is a top priority for the Delhi lad.
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, former Pakistan skipper and the current chief selector, Inzamam-ul-Haq, expressed his views on how India will fare in their upcoming five-match Test series against Joe Root’s side and whether Kohli will be able to put his past disappointments in England behind him.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Virat Kohli is a great player and his performances are proof of this fact. Just because he has not been able to score heavily in England does not undermine his stature as an all-time great batsman,” Inzamam quoted.
“If he is not able to put in a good performance in one or two innings, then that does not in any way reduce his stature as a player. We know that he works hard and he continues to learn day-by-day and we saw that proof in the manner he played in South Africa where he helped his side lift their game. Despite the fact that he may not have a good past record there, England need to be wary that a player of Virat Kohli's quality can easily help his side win the upcoming series between the two sides,” he added.
When asked how does he rate the English skipper Joe Root, who has coped up a lot of criticism in the recent past for England’s awful showing in the traditional format, Inzi said: “The most important aspect of his batting is that he has scored well, not only at home but also abroad. To me, the mark of a great player is that he is able to perform well in all conditions and this is what Root has shown to everyone with outstanding performances around the world. He is still new to the job of England's Test captain and as he gets more experience in this role, he will also prove his worth as a captain in the same way as he has shown in his batting.”
As a chief selector, Inzamam recently saw his Pakistan side hold England to a 1-1 Test series draw, featuring a famous victory at Lord's.
Talking about his vision for the future of Pakistan cricket, the 48-year-old said: “I understand that there are people who are highly critical of our selection policies saying that the teams should have certain players and so on, but what they need to realise is that the selectors, captain and coach have a certain vision and want to select teams that will not just give us success in the next series but ones that will serve us in the long term.”
“One thing to note - and this is something I strongly believe in - is that some of the newer players were picked directly for their First-Class performances which will really encourage the players who are doing well at that level. What that will prove to aspiring First-Class players is that they too can be picked for the national team and also the fact, when given the chance, they are good enough to play international cricket and perform well at that level. All in all, I believe this sort of selection policy will greatly benefit Pakistan cricket,” he explained.
Inzamam concluded by talking about the difficulties to be a chief selector in a country where every other person thinks they can do a better job.
“In any country like Pakistan where cricket is followed so passionately and there is so much admiration and scrutiny of the players, it is logical that everyone will have strong opinions about national cricket. It does make the job of the selectors very tough as all their decisions are under the scrutiny of the whole nation. But what we, the selectors, strive to do is to perform our duties with sincerity and honesty to ensure that we make a team which helps Pakistan cricket in the long term,” he signed-off.