Batting legend Sir Vivian Richards has backed Virat Kohli to come out with flying colours during the tough tour of England later this year, despite missing out on a county stint with Surrey.
Kohli’s much-anticipated county stint with Surrey came to a halt on Thursday (May 24) after the Indian captain suffered a neck sprain and was subsequently advised by BCCI’s medical team to take rest. During the South Africa tour earlier this year, Virat had missed a T20I game owing to the same injury.
“I would have loved to see him play County. I think that was a wise move. I think he was aware of what took place last time. That’s good thinking. But it’s disappointing now that he can’t do that. But I think he is strong enough mentally. And I am backing him to do well,” Richards said in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times.
Earlier, it was reported that Kohli's stint with Surrey will begin on June 1 with a one day game against Kent at Beckenham. He was supposed to play the second and third match of the Royal London Cup on June 3 and 6 against Middlesex and Glamorgan respectively. Subsequently, the 29-year-old was to feature in two four-day games.
When asked to comment on Kohli’s evolution as a captain in the past three years, the 66-year-old said: “I love aggression. My whole style was aggression. I love Virat for that. I think one of the more important confrontations I have seen was when Virat scored four centuries in Australia against the best bowling attack. That’s the best way to respond man! If the Indian team had taken a leaf out of his book, I believe they could have won the series.”
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. Talking about India’s chances to conquer the English conditions, Sir Viv said: “England would be thinking India haven’t travelled that well. I don’t think that is true. I remember Cheteshwar Pujara playing that marathon knock in Johannesburg. You have guys who can do it. I think it’s a great opportunity. Virat will be looking to amend his last outing in England. And I will back him.”
The Test series between South Africa and Australia in March 2018 had grabbed headlines for a number of wrong reasons. The ball-tampering scandal was certainly the biggest one with three Aussie cricketers namely Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft facing suspension from international cricket for their involvement.
Commenting on the disgraceful ball-tampering saga, Richards said: “Boys will be boys. That (incident) was pretty sad in my opinion. Especially with the cameras at so many angles, that for me wasn’t smart.”
“That was so dumb. And now that we see the dumbness, let them pay. I love Steve Smith. He had a blunder. But let’s move ahead. That was a gloomy day. We don’t need that in the game. If you compete hard enough you can be in the winning circle. To cheat and do it --- that to me is the lowest of the low,” he concluded.