Greg Chappell

Kohli not only has the talent, but also the presence

In the words of the German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer “talent hits a target that no one else can hit; genius hits a target that no one else can see”.

Indian cricket has had a number of batting genii in its short history

As a batsman, I have always been attracted to those with the ability to make the difficult look commonplace. India has had many good players in my time, but, in my opinion, it has had three genii of the art in Pataudi, Gavaskar and Tendulkar.

Is Virat Kohli the next manifestation?

On what we saw during the Twenty20 World Cup, Kohli is going to have commentators from all over the globe comparing him to those three greats of Indian cricket.

Some of his innings in the World Cup were inspirational. Australia probably didn’t play as well as it would have liked in Mohali, but it took a truly remarkable innings to beat it.

I remember watching Pataudi bat against Graham McKenzie at the MCG nearly 50 years ago.

Already handicapped by the loss of one eye, Pataudi was also hampered by a hamstring injury, but, batting at No. 7 in each innings, he belted the best Australia could offer to the tune of 75 and 85 in a remarkable display of inspired batting.

What he could have achieved with two eyes and on two legs we can only imagine.

Gavaskar was “The Master”. Small of stature, but big of heart he withstood the might of the West Indian fast bowling contingent at a time when it brushed aside most whom it came up against. His record in India and overseas stamp him as one of the best that has played the game. That he did it opening the innings makes his achievements even more laudable.

His ODI batting did not reach the heights of his Test deeds, but had he grown up in a later era with the modern bats, smaller grounds and a mind-set conditioned by growing up with the shorter format, his short-form record would have looked very different.

Tendulkar could have been anything. The earliest version of Tendulkar could have climbed even loftier heights than he did.

I like what I see with Kohli.

He has talent, but, more importantly, he has presence. He looks like he belongs and he looks like he wants to make a difference. At a comparable period in their career it is interesting to compare the progress of the three.

With the help of the Wisden Impact Index I have discovered that at a comparable stage in their respective career Gavaskar has a 33 per cent higher Test impact (in a match and series context) than Kohli and a 72 per cent higher impact than Tendulkar while Kohli has a 29 per cent higher impact than Tendulkar.

In terms of consistency Gavaskar has the lowest failure rate of 29 per cent compared to Kohli 45 per cent and Tendulkar 48 per cent at the comparable stage (72 Test innings).

Looking at their overall career impact Tendulkar’s is six per cent higher than Gavaskar and three per cent higher than Kohli with Kohli’s being three per cent higher than Gavaskar.

In terms of consistency across their career, Gavaskar ended on 36 per cent, Tendulkar on 42 per cent with Kohli sitting on 45 per cent. One would imagine that Kohli will lower that rate as he moves into the most productive years of his career.

In ODI cricket, Kohli and Tendulkar have remarkably similar failure rates after 163 innings (Kohli’s current total) at 43 per cent and 44 per cent respectively, but Kohli has had an eight per cent higher impact than Tendulkar meaning that his runs in the context of the game and series are measured as being more important.

Over a complete career, Tendulkar turns the tables on Kohli with a two per cent higher impact overall.

Comparing them across Tendulkar’s entire ODI career, Kohli has scored a larger proportion of runs vis-à-vis Tendulkar albeit at a lower Strike Rate Impact, but when it comes to building partnerships, absorbing pressure and chasing, Kohli is ahead of Tendulkar.

In fact, Kohli has absorbed the most pressure of any Indian batsmen in ODI’s and has the highest Chasing Impact in ODI history which puts him in rare air indeed. Especially when you consider what Dhoni has achieved in his illustrious career.

Kohli appears to be a driven individual so, on the evidence so far, we can look forward to many more match-winning performances and series-defining efforts from him before he has finished.

I am not prepared to say that his record will be better than his illustrious predecessors, but nor am I ruling it out.

We can look forward to many more match-winning performances and series-defining efforts from him before he has finished

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 7:48:34 AM |

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