The Director of Cricket at Surrey, Alec Stewart, has made it clear that doors are still open for Virat Kohli to relish his county stint with the south London club. The India captain had signed up to play for Surrey for the month of June as part of his preparations for the ongoing England Test series.
However, Kohli’s much-awaited county stint had come to a halt in May after he suffered a neck sprain and was subsequently advised by BCCI’s medical team to take rest. Apparently, Virat had picked up the neck injury during Royal Challengers Bangalore’s last league match against Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2018.
In an exclusive interview with the Pune Mirror, Stewart said: “Never say never. I am all for having world-class players. And he is the best player in the world.”
“But again, itineraries -- India’s itinerary, his own itinerary -- may or may not allow. We will certainly take a look at it if it is possible. We understood the reasons (for him pulling out from Surrey). When a player is injured it is right that they give themselves time to get fit before they play for their national side,” he added.
Stewart revealed that Surrey had approached Kohli about 18 months back. They were unsure about their overseas player slot after Sri Lanka batting legend Kumar Sangakkara’s exit. The Surrey director also added that Virat’s unavailability had not caused the county side any financial loss.
Despite missing his county stint, Kohli was the lone warrior for India in the Edgbaston Test. Virat finished the match as the leading run-scorer from either side. While the Indian captain registered his maiden Test ton (149) on English soil in the first innings, he scored a flawless 51 in the second innings. Consequently, Kohli jumped past Steve Smith to clinch the no. 1 spot in ICC’s Test rankings for batsmen.
“That is because he is the best player in the world. Whether he played with Surrey or not, that would have little impact on how he went out and played in a Test match. He played beautifully. He has obviously thought through about how he is going to come and play in England against the moving ball, batting outside of his crease, playing the ball later. All these sorts of things, the great players can do. And he is the greatest player currently playing,” Stewart remarked.
“I enjoyed watching him. It was a real challenge him taking on (James) Anderson and (Stuart) Broad and the rest, and he batted in his own way. He won that one at Edgbaston and England will come at him again in this game, they would have got some options for him,” he concluded.