Former England captain Mike Brearley was not impressed with Virat Kohli’s captaincy in the fifth and final Test against England at The Oval. India suffered a 118-run defeat in the Oval Test and thereby conceded the five-match Test series 4-1 to England.
The margin of defeat could have been much larger if it was not for a couple of swashbuckling centuries from KL Rahul (149) and Rishabh Pant (114) on the last day.
“I was slightly disappointed with his captaincy at The Oval, when England started to get on top. He let things drift a bit, whereas when the match was evenly fought, or they were in with a chance, or had the new ball against Root, he was keen-eyed, hawk-eyed, articulate, non-stop,” Brearley said in an interview with Daily Mail.
“I admire him probably as much as any cricketer I've seen. But there is a risk: everyone's strengths can become faults and in his case his articulacy, his charisma, his presence, his skill, his fierce thoughtfulness could become tyrannical, a bit autocratic.
“He needs people around him who will tackle him, take him on, challenge him, otherwise he'll get opinionated and dogmatic, and then powerful — sometimes for good, sometimes not. I can imagine he might be difficult to play for. He'd be very impatient of carelessness or laziness or lack of intensity. And some people aren't of that mentality," he explained.
Commenting on England’s upcoming Test series in Sri Lanka, Brearley suggested that the ace all-rounder Ben Stokes must bat at the top order considering that the southpaw has a good defence.
"I thought of Stokes because he's got a good classical defence. Now the only trouble is — it's a bit like Botham — you don't know if batting up the order is going to inhibit him. Should he remain at 5 or 6 or 7? I just don't know the answer.
"I even thought he might open the batting in Sri Lanka and the West Indies, especially if he's going to be fourth seamer and bowl in bursts now and then to intimidate and stir them up."
Talking about England captain Joe Root, Brearley opined that the right-hander is a fantastic batsman but his conversion rate is a cause for concern.
“Root is a terrific batsman. He hasn't quite come off in the last year and I don't know why it is that he keeps getting out between 50 and 100. It's not for want of trying. Perhaps he starts trying too hard. Virat Kohli's conversion rate from 50s to 100s is something like 59 or 60 per cent (it's 54), Root's is something like 25. It's quite an interesting contrast — these are two of the best four or five players in the world,” he asserted.
Brearley also said that the dominance of home sides is not good for the future of Test cricket and thus he endorsed the elimination of toss especially to improve the quality.
“You either give the toss to the opposition, or you have a toss as to whether there should be a toss. Home teams would be nervous about fixing the pitches,” he concluded.