You are one of the greats: Wesley Hall tells Kohli

Having also served as sports minister of Barbados, the man of many talents reserved humbling words for Kohli in his brief chat with Rahul Dravid.

Published - June 19, 2024 11:17 am IST - Bridgetown (Barbados)

India’s openers Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli enter the field for their Group A match against Pakistan in the ICC T20 World Cup 2024, at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York on Sunday.

India’s openers Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli enter the field for their Group A match against Pakistan in the ICC T20 World Cup 2024, at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York on Sunday. | Photo Credit: ANI

Legendary West Indies pacer Wesley Hall has seen a lot of great batters over the years and in his opinion, Indian superstar Virat Kohli belongs right at the top with the all-time legends of the game.

The 86-year-old from Barbados, who formed a lethal bowling partnership with Charlie Griffith in the 1960s, also feels that the modern day West Indies players can't be expected to turn down million-dollar contracts in franchise cricket though it does impact the health of Test cricket in the region.

In stark contrast to the nomadic life of a current international cricketer, Hall played 48 Tests in a career spanning 16 years.

He was a special guest at the Kensington Oval here on Tuesday when he met members of the Indian team and presented his autobiography to Kohli and head coach Rahul Dravid on the sidelines of their second training session.

Having also served as sports minister of Barbados, the man of many talents reserved humbling words for Kohli in his brief chat with the former India captain.

"You have come to practice and you have to see an old man," that was how he broke the ice with the Indian mainstay.

"I have seen a lot of great players and you are one of them. I have followed your career and I hope you play for India for many more years," said the 86-year-old.

‘If I am from the proletariat, can’t refuse IPL millions’

T20 cricket in the West Indies seems to be in good health but the same can't be said about Tests, the only format Hall played and excelled at.

The Caribbean icon feels the administrators need to find a way to prevent a mass exodus from the longest format.

"Well, I would say that if your date is today, I'm not concerned. But if you told me two years ago, I was very concerned. And that's what happens," he said when asked about the state of the red-ball game in the region.

“You just need to get some players who will stick with you. I mean, at one time, we had some great players, but they weren’t playing Test cricket. But that’s the problem, you see.”

"If I am from the proletariat, I don't have any money and somebody offered me a million dollars for four years, well then I could not really refuse it. So we have to sort of deal with it in such a way that it doesn't happen every day," said Hall.

Asked about his views on how the game has changed over the years, Hall said he doesn't like the fact that cricket has become batter-friendly.

"Well, one has to be aware that things will change. Now we are wondering what's happening, especially if you go into the area where you play the game of 20 overs. There are certain things that I wonder about.

"I just wonder why would batsmen be able to bat through the whole innings, the bowlers are restricted to four bowlers. I often ask that."

Hall, who is 6'5", believes a good fast bowler has to be at least six feet. He is also a fan of Jasprit Bumrah and is impressed with the pace talent in India.

"Earlier you had only Kapil Dev, now you have so many," he remarked.

"You have to remember that immediately after we left the scene, you know, we had about two fast bowlers in the West Indies. Some of them couldn't get in the side. We need to look for some good pacemen.

"I like a paceman that is six foot. When you put a ball in the slip corner, like how Big Bird Joel Garner used to do it, and (Curtly) Ambrose. These fellows, they bowl and they're able to get that bounce," said Hall.

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