Virat Kohli is clearly the best batsman in the world

Glenn Mitchell Columnist

By Glenn Mitchell, Glenn Mitchell is a Roar Expert


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    Indian skipper Virat Kohli is currently monstering England and stamping himself as the best batsman in the world.

    In the first four Tests of a five-Test series, he has plundered 640 runs at an average of 128.

    His most recent innings – a career high 235 at Mumbai – has taken his average beyond 50 for the first time in his 52-Test career.

    It was his third double century this year, following 211 against New Zealand and 200 versus West Indies.

    He now averages over 50 in all three forms of the international game.

    It is a unique feat that no other batsman is close to achieving. A comparison with the overall records of Kohli’s leading contemporaries illustrates his current standing in the game.

    Batsman Test average ODI average T20I average
    Virat Kohli 50.5 52.9 57.1
    Steve Smith 57.5 42.3 21.6
    Joe Root 52.9 45.7 37.5
    AB de Villiers 50.5 53.6 23.6
    Hashim Amla 50.1 51.3 31.5
    Kane Williamson 49.4 46.3 34.5
    David Warner 48.1 43.1 28.1

    Having turned 28 years of age last month, Kohli is in his prime as a batsman and is performing accordingly.

    Since assuming the Test captaincy, he has averaged 65.5 in his 21 matches at the helm.

    Kohli first made his name at one-day international level, playing 59 ODIs before he received his Test call-up in June 2011.

    He had a relatively modest start at Test level, averaging 39.5 through his first 29 appearances.

    However, since that point just over two years ago, he has averaged 65 and struck nine centuries in 23 Tests.

    Kohli is very much the modern-day Indian player, given he is prepared to get in the face of the likes of the Australian team.

    Previously, generations of Indian players were intimidated on the ground when confronted by more aggressive opponents.

    Kohli is no shrinking violet and is not intimidated by such tactics.

    Indeed, his most successful series to date came in Australia in 2014-15, when he reeled off four centuries in as many Tests, scoring 692 runs at 86.5.

    Virat Kohli of India

    Kohli’s air of confidence and bravado at times rankled the Australians.

    If there is one question mark over Kohli at Test level, it is the disparity between his record at home and his record away.

    In India, he averages 59. While away, his average drops to 44.6.

    Interestingly, he averages 62 in Australia and 68 in South Africa, countries where the pitches are traditionally diametrically opposed to the ones he was raised, and still plays on, in India.

    His Achilles heel has been England, where his five Tests have realised an average of just 13.4.

    It was immediately following that series in mid-2014 that his career took off at Test level.

    He has yet to return to England but it is a safe bet that when he does he will do far better second time around.

    While Steve Smith is anything but orthodox, and in short form cricket AB de Villiers can produce shots few can, Kohli has principally scored his runs in all three formats with a pure technique.

    With the typical coiled wrists that are a trademark of so many Indian batsmen, Kohli scores freely all around the wicket. His legside play, in particular, has a silken quality about it.

    Australia will face a Kohli-led side when it ventures to India in February. Quelling the Indian skipper will be at the forefront of Smith’s mind.

    If history is any indicator, having scored six centuries and averaged 60.8 in 12 Tests against Australia, he will not be an easy man to tame.

    Glenn Mitchell
    Glenn Mitchell

    After 21 years as a sports broadcaster with the ABC, since mid-2011 Glenn Mitchell has been freelancing in the electronic and written media. He is an ambassador for mental health in Australia, and tweets from @mitchellglenn.

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    The Crowd Says (54)

    • Roar Guru

      December 15th 2016 @ 5:06am
      Tim Holt said | December 15th 2016 @ 5:06am | ! Report

      If you are measuring this across the three forms of the game, Kohli is without parallel, miles ahead of any other

      In real cricket, tests, I still have an axterix near his name that will only be dispelled when he shows he can excel in seaming/swinging conditions such as England

      • December 15th 2016 @ 5:11am
        brains of a bimbo (atgm) said | December 15th 2016 @ 5:11am | ! Report

        Ricky pontng averaged 30 in india.he was arguably the best batsman of his generation

        • Roar Guru

          December 15th 2016 @ 5:12am
          Tim Holt said | December 15th 2016 @ 5:12am | ! Report

          not in my view, with Ponting, he had a fair few ahead of him in his generation

          • Roar Guru

            December 15th 2016 @ 6:47am
            The Bush said | December 15th 2016 @ 6:47am | ! Report

            Really? Who was ahead of him? Kallis? Saangakarra? Tendulkar (overrated). Surely that’d be at most?

            • December 15th 2016 @ 9:28am
              Sideline said | December 15th 2016 @ 9:28am | ! Report

              I think at his best Ponting was ahead of any in his generation. Unfortunately he just didn’t sustain his best as well as some others.

            • Roar Guru

              December 15th 2016 @ 12:06pm
              Tim Holt said | December 15th 2016 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

              The three you mention, Lara, Dravid,Gilly, I would have VVS before him

              • December 15th 2016 @ 1:44pm
                Perry Bridge said | December 15th 2016 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

                VVS only excelled against Australia!!!!

                For me Kohli over the last 2 years in test cricket – he’s converting to big 200s, and important ones too. His capacity to excel in all formats and that includes all formats in pretty well all locations – he is likely to have a next 3-5 years that will cement his reputation and kill off debate.

                Better than Tendulker is a high possibility and in part because he seems to have a little bit more ‘mongrel’ in him.

              • Roar Guru

                December 15th 2016 @ 1:53pm
                Tim Holt said | December 15th 2016 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

                Fair call on VVS , Perry, I think I am letting love blind me in making the claim for idolised Laxman. He was not only a batsman of unparalleled beauty but so puristic as well.

                As for Kohli, he has been exceptional and has that ‘mongrel’ in him, a trait that is very Un-Indian for they have often been viewed as ‘too nice.’

                he might go past Tendulkar’s reputation, but i still see Gavaskar as India’s greatest ever and he will never get to the feats that icon achieved. The key one giving India credibility

                In this age, Sunny would have averaged 75, no doubt at all

          • December 20th 2016 @ 1:41pm
            Matt said | December 20th 2016 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

            Wat about shane warne,dennis lille they never performed in india? Muralidharan is a another one he was average in india and australia. Why is kohli singled out for 5 test matches of his career??

    • December 15th 2016 @ 6:37am
      Brasstacks said | December 15th 2016 @ 6:37am | ! Report

      De Villiers is the best. Period. He can score 147 out of 44 deliveries and score 16 out of 143 deliveries. No other batsman in world cricket is so versatile.

      • December 20th 2016 @ 1:44pm
        Matt said | December 20th 2016 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

        De villiers is best batting without pressure. Tell me one innings he played under pressurre? Kohli has already played probably atleast 10 such innings which player feel lucky to play one of those in there career.

    • December 15th 2016 @ 7:02am
      New guy said | December 15th 2016 @ 7:02am | ! Report

      The t20 average is not as important. I have him equal with Devilliers

    • Roar Guru

      December 15th 2016 @ 8:13am
      DingoGray said | December 15th 2016 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      Kohli is star. The only question mark is obviously in Australia and England…..

      But I’m sure he will arrest that before his career is finished.

      • Columnist

        December 15th 2016 @ 8:17am
        Glenn Mitchell said | December 15th 2016 @ 8:17am | ! Report

        Dingo, I don’t Australia is an issue … as written above, on his last tour here in 2014-15 he scored four centuries in four Tests and 692 runs at 86.5.

        • Roar Guru

          December 15th 2016 @ 9:05am
          JamesH said | December 15th 2016 @ 9:05am | ! Report

          True, Glenn, but we served up the biggest roads in living memory in that series (at least until NZ at the WACA last summer). The one pitch with a bit of life was at the Gabba and he failed there.

        • Roar Guru

          December 15th 2016 @ 9:06am
          The Bush said | December 15th 2016 @ 9:06am | ! Report

          Wouldn’t exactly say those wickets were up to “test” standard. Nothing against Kohli and Smith’s centuries, but I dread to think how many runs our great side of the early 2000s would have piled up…

        • December 15th 2016 @ 10:01am
          Marshall said | December 15th 2016 @ 10:01am | ! Report

          Glenn, that is not indicative of true bouncing or seaming conditions as the pitches dished up were flat roads to appease the BCCI and ensure television rights monies unfortunately

          • December 15th 2016 @ 10:13pm
            spruce moose said | December 15th 2016 @ 10:13pm | ! Report

            What is indicative though is that he scored all those runs, smith scored all those runs and no one else did.

            It wasn’t the pitches, it was two superstar batsman going head to head. Smith won the stat sheet, Kohli was pound for pound better by virtue of being the visiting batsman.

        • December 15th 2016 @ 1:24pm
          Graham Spalding said | December 15th 2016 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

          I reckon his South Africa average is a very small sample. 2 tests, 1 at Kingsmead (spinning wicket) and 1 at Wanderers (usually quick). 2 good knocks at Wanderers with an average of over 100 but that’s the match where SA should have chased the world record 4th innings but locked down the hatches when FAF was run out for 134. Ended the day on 7-450 chasing 458, 4 hundreds in the match.
          His first innings 100 is telling though.

    • December 15th 2016 @ 8:43am
      Steve said | December 15th 2016 @ 8:43am | ! Report

      Why do people still put scoring runs in Australia as some type of bench mark. Now that test cricket is no longer played in Pakistan, the flattest most batsman friendly wickets in the world are in Australia.

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

      • December 15th 2016 @ 8:50am
        Tom M said | December 15th 2016 @ 8:50am | ! Report

        Because other than South Africa every other touring side has always struggled against our bouncy wickets. Especially the Gabba, watch the pakies get rolled today.

        • December 15th 2016 @ 9:33am
          Sideline said | December 15th 2016 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          And because for Subcontinent batsmen scoring runs here is the litmus test, as no Asian team has ever won a test series here (as I learnt when reading Misbah-ul-Haq’s column on the CA website).

      • December 15th 2016 @ 5:21pm
        American Dave said | December 15th 2016 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

        It seems a more accurate view would be those who can post the scores on the road. Changing conditions, not the conditions themselves, will always be the litmus test.

    • December 15th 2016 @ 9:25am
      Brian said | December 15th 2016 @ 9:25am | ! Report

      The pitches Kohli scored runs on last time he was here weren’t really traditionally Australian. I’ve never seen flatter tracks in this country in all my time watching cricket: it’s clear that the BCCI had something to say about their preparation.

      • Roar Guru

        December 15th 2016 @ 9:53am
        Chris Kettlewell said | December 15th 2016 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        I don’t know it was necessarily about the BCCI, but CA definitely seems to put commercial interests well above the interests of favouring the home side in how they do things. The like flat pitches as they think people want to see lots of runs scored, plus they want tests to run 5 days if possible. Though I think the first pink ball test in Adelaide last year may have changed that attitude a bit, realising that people actually enjoyed the lower scoring, shorter, Adelaide test, much more than the boring run-fest in the WACA that preceeded it.

        • December 15th 2016 @ 12:03pm
          jameswm said | December 15th 2016 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

          Come on Chris, it must have been the BCCI. Play flat low decks or we won’t come again.

          Kohli on a proper Gabba or WACA pitch doesn’t average 60+ in Australia. I think the Indians even refused to play ion Perth, because of the reputation of the deck.

          • December 15th 2016 @ 12:13pm
            Alex L said | December 15th 2016 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

            James; it seems vastly more likely that CA didn’t want the 6 o’clock news highlights having blokes getting badged after what had happened earlier in the summer.

          • Roar Guru

            December 15th 2016 @ 1:29pm
            Chris Kettlewell said | December 15th 2016 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

            SA cricket doesn’t have the same pull as the BCCI, and yet CA still always seems to include a WACA test for the South African’s despite that being their best Australian ground. If decisions were made from the point of view of maximising chances of a home victory, we’d never play SA at the WACA. But from a commercial point of view it makes sense. Lots of expat South African’s in Perth, plus a timezone that probably works better for SA also, and they always play there.

            Whether pressure is exerted or not it’s hard to know, but certainly money talks, and if those decisions result in more money coming in CA will make that call.

          • December 15th 2016 @ 7:59pm
            Graham Spalding said | December 15th 2016 @ 7:59pm | ! Report

            I think South Africa were also unhappy about the same thing when there was a slow turner against India at Kingsmead, Durban, in a 2 match series. Think it was Kallis’ last match and a painfully slow but ultimately match winning hundred, even by Kallis standards

          • December 16th 2016 @ 11:20am
            Matt said | December 16th 2016 @ 11:20am | ! Report

            Mate . What are you talking about?? Why would india refuse to play in perth? They won a test in perth in 2008. Opposite to popular belief that india struggles when pitch has something, this actually makes there bowlers potent to take 20 wickets. Only tests they have won overseas are in bowler friendly conditions. Such as wanderers,lords, perth..