Johannesburg: Virat Kohli can come across as intimidating but he is still learning and would become calmer as he grows on the job, feels West Indies’ pace legend Michael Holding, who finds an uncanny similarity between the Indian skipper and Sir Vivian Richards.
“At the moment, he is a young captain, who is just learning and understanding what it takes to be a captain. He is a bit exuberant and very emotional. Sometimes he gets so emotional that it is intimidating not only for the opposition but for his players as well. When I compare Virat to Vivian Richards, it is not just in the batting but captaincy as well,” Holding told PTI.
“It was similar with Viv. When he took over the captaincy, it was similar. And then he grew in the job. He learnt to be a little bit calmer and then his team got calmer as well. And then the results came. I think it should be a similar learning situation with Virat,” he added.
India clinched the third Test by 63 runs at Wanderers but lost the three-match series against South Africa after losing the opening two Tests.
Kohli’s selection decision came under the scanner in the Test series and Holding too was critical of his chop-and-change policy which saw him play a different XI in each of the 35 Tests.
“You are playing in so many different conditions, in so many foreign countries, that you think that this pitch now suits this person or doesn’t suit someone else. Also, in the modern game, there is so much cricket that you tend to rotate players especially bowlers and give them a bit of rest. If that is a reason why he is doing it, you can understand that. But it is unhealthy making so many changes,” said Holding.
“When you go back to the great Test teams, they would change now and again, not every Test match, because then even the players are unsettled and they are not sure if they are going to play the next game or not. They might be worried that if I don’t perform today, I might be out tomorrow.
“And you need settled players. You need them to think positively about their game. You need them to think I will go out there and even if I fail, I am good enough and they will give me another chance. It doesn’t happen with rotation constantly, which again is unhealthy,” he said.
One of the selection decision was picking Rohit Sharma over Test specialist Ajinkya Rahane in the first two Tests and Holding said the Indian team management must be more careful about selecting their batsmen especially on overseas tours.
“When they left out Ajinkya Rahane I was a bit surprised. Every one is saying that he didn’t have a good series against Sri Lanka, but he has an excellent record away from home. A lot of Indian batsmen struggle when they leave India, but he has not (struggled). So once you leave India that’s the first thing you think of,” he said.
“Rahane has to be back in the team even though he hasn’t been making runs. Look at how he played at Wanderers (second innings). His record overseas is too good. You have got to think of batsmen, when you see them play, what they will do on different surfaces,” said Holding.
Holding further explained: “For example, everyone was suspecting that Shikhar Dhawan won’t do well on hard bouncy pitches but they played him early. You have got to make early decisions. Perhaps if they had come here a few days earlier and played proper cricket before the Test matches, they would have been able to deduce that before that first Test.
“You can’t come to foreign countries thinking that you know everything about the conditions here and think you will play the first Test, and you will be okay. That doesn’t work,” he added.
Kohli finished as the highest run-getter with 286 runs in the three-Test series and Holding was all praise for the Indian skipper.
“He is a top-class batsman. He is way above the rest of Indian batsmen in this team. When I think of the past Indian batsmen, Sachin Tendulkar was the best batsman in his team. But he wasn’t that far ahead of people like Rahul Dravid or VVS Laxman. He was better than them but not miles ahead,” Holding said.
“Virat is miles ahead of everybody on this Indian team but I don’t think it influences his captaincy. And as soon as Virat gets some runs in England, I am happy to put the label great beside his name. At the moment I am just waiting.”