India skipper Virat Kohli was officially signed by Surrey for the 2018 English county season on Thursday (May 3). Ever since the news broke out, cricket fans and experts are busy with their speculation as to who took the first step in securing the deal.
Busting all sorts of myth, the director of cricket at Surrey – Alec Stewart – on Sunday (May 6) revealed that Surrey had been following up the issue with Kohli since he wished to feature in county cricket about 18 months back.
It is worth mentioning here that Kohli had expressed his desire to play in county cricket during the home series against England in December 2016.
“All I did was just following it up with Virat at that time. At some stage, we kept in contact with him and his advisors just to see [how it goes] and it looked like the BCCI may be involved in it. They finally gave the okay last week and then we announced it on Thursday. It is a long process, and something we were waiting for so that it can benefit two parties,” Stewart told Sportstar.
Even though Kohli has conquered more or less every condition with his willow, he has not been able to perform at his best in England. 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 India captain.
Stewart, however, sees the entire turn of events in a different way.
“Virat is considered the best player in the world. Virat will score runs all around the world, he is that good a player, though his last Test series here was indifferent by his standards. I expect him to score everywhere in the world, including England, whether it is county cricket or international cricket,” Surrey’s director of cricket opined.
As per the contract, Kohli's stint with Surrey starts on June 1 with a one day game against Kent at Beckenham. He will be playing the second and third match of the Royal London Cup on June 3 and 6 against Middlesex and Glamorgan respectively.
The four-day campaign will start against Hampshire in Southampton on June 9 to 12 followed by a match against Somerset (at Guildford from June 20-23) and concluding with Yorkshire game at Scarborough (June 25 to 28).
When asked how does the club plan to use the Indian star in such a short time, Stewart said: “We are getting one of the best players, if not the best, in the world. He will be here for three championship games and a minimum of three 50 over games that can help Surrey and it can help Virat by providing cricket for him. He wanted to play county cricket and it may help him in getting ready for the Test series.”
“When you look at it, he is only playing one game at a Test ground which is the Ageas Bowl, which I don’t think India is playing in, anyway. So, he is getting cricketing education and we are getting a world class player,” he concluded.
India’s tour of England will kick off from July 3 where they will play three T20Is and as many ODIs before featuring in a five-match Test series from August 1.