Don’t worry Virat, batting failures happen to the best (Part 1)

Kersi Meher-Homji Columnist

By , Kersi Meher-Homji is a Roar Expert

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    India’s captain and master batsman, Virat Kohli with 4497 runs at 49.90 in 56 Tests, is passing through a rough patch against Australia.

    In the current series, he has managed a measly 46 runs at a Glenn McGrath-like batting average of 9.20.

    He started off with a duck and 13 in the first Test in Pune, followed by 12 and 15 in Bengaluru in the second Test, and 6 in the first innings of the current Ranchi Test.

    It may comfort Kohli and his supporters to learn that great batsmen in the past have also experienced such lean trots.

    Australia’s magnificent batsman Greg Chappell passed through a much worse phase in 1981-82, when he made seven ducks in 15 internationals, including four zeroes in a row.

    Like Kohli’s case, it was quite inexplicable, because Chappell had started the season with a sparkling 162 (20 fours and two sixes) in the opening match for Queensland against Pakistan in Brisbane, and a brilliant 201 (22 fours) in the Brisbane Test facing the bowling of Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz, in November 1981.

    But then the wheels fell off.

    In 15 consecutive international innings (including five innings in three Tests) Chappell struggled to 214 runs at 14.26, with two 50s (top score 61) and seven ducks. He was dismissed first ball three times, twice in Test matches.

    In five consecutive Test innings within 23 days from December 15 1981 to January 6 1982, he scored just 18 runs (0, 0, 6, 12 and 0) at a BS Chandrasekhar-like average of 3.60.

    Cartoonists had a field day depicting Chappell’s plight and a poster on the first day of the Sydney Test against West Indies on January 30, 1982 read: “Everyone got turkey for Christmas, our Greg got four ducks”.

    Chappell answered them with 61 and 7.

    He recovered his form sufficiently in New Zealand with a masterly 176 (off 218 balls with two sixes and 23 fours) in the Christchurch Test two months later.

    Class always tells.

    And in his final Test appearance, against Pakistan in Sydney in January 1984, he scored a scintillating 182 (off 400 balls with 17 fours), becoming the sixth player to amass 7000 runs in the Test arena. He also exceeded Don Bradman’s Australian Test record of 6996 runs.

    Chappell became the first player to hit a century in his first and last Test innings. He also broke Colin Cowdrey’s record of 120 catches in Test matches by a non-wicket-keeper.

    He ended with 7110 runs at 53.86 in 87 Tests, 24 centuries (highest 247 not out), 47 wickets and 122 catches.

    Greg Chappell’s bad patch in 1981-82 in internationals in 15 successive internationals should be a consolation for Virat Kohli. Low scoring spells happen to the best players and there is life after ducks and low scores.

    Part 2 will detail low-scoring sprees by top Test batsmen Kim Hughes, Mark Waugh and Mark Taylor.

    Kersi Meher-Homji
    Kersi Meher-Homji

    Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.