Virat Kohli has been phenomenal for India in the limited overs cricket. He is a match winner and his exploits while chasing targets in limited overs cricket is exceptional. Recently, many experts have started to use the term ‘Fab Four’ for the group of four fantastic batsmen – Steven Smith, Kane Williamson, Joe Root and Virat Kohli.
They are also sometimes loosely termed as a modern great. The question here is: Is he really that good that he can be termed as modern great or be included in the 'Fab Four'?
Kohli’s record in the limited overs cricket doesn’t leave us with any doubt about his greatness in the shorter format of the game, but what about his records in the test cricket ?
The Delhi lad averages 43.76 in 47 Test matches, which is good but not great. Kohli has cemented his place at No. 4 after the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, and in 27 Tests post the retirement of Tendulkar, Kohli averages 45.45. That is again good, but not great.
Another defining moment in Virat Kohli’s career is when he got test captaincy after MS Dhoni decided to quit test cricket. Since becoming captain, he has played 15 Tests and averages 42.26 with 3 centuries and 2 half-centuries, which is again nothing home to write about.
Now let us compare Virat Kohli with his contemporaries.
In all test matches
|Name||No. of Tests||Runs||Average||100||50||Innings per 50 plus score|
|Virat Kohli||47||3326||43. 76||12||12||3.33|
Record at home of opponents
|Name||No. of Test||Runs||Average||100||50||Innings per 50 plus score|
Record as Captain
|Name||No. of Test||Runs||Average||100||50|
** Joe Root has not captained England in any Test Match.
From the stats above, it’s clear that Virat Kohli is lagging behind in Test cricket. When his overall record is compared with other three of 'Fab Four', he lags far behind in terms of average, runs or in number of innings taken to score a 50 plus score.
Same is the case when his records at away Test matches are scrutinised; apart from the famous Australian tour in 2014-15, he has not much to show.
The Indian greats vs Kohli
The line of greatness hovers at around the batting average of 50 or above in Test cricket. On the eve of India’s 500th Test, many experts and ex-players picked India’s all-time Test XI. Everyone picked Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid in their India's all time XI.
Interestingly, all four averaged around or above 50 in the Test cricket. However, many did not pick VVS Laxman and Ganguly. Both of them, interestingly, averaged around or below 45 in Test cricket.
Virat Kohli, at present, averages 43.76 in Test cricket, which is far below the line of greatness, i.e., batting average of 50 or above.
Modern day great?
The 27-year-old’s Test record does not justify the tag of ‘Modern Day Great’. With the brilliance that Virat Kohli has shown in the limited overs cricket, his performances in Test cricket has left a lot to be desired.
However, a player cannot be solely judged on stats. His record at away Test matches as well as his overall record, does not reflect the ability and the kind of talent that Virat Kohli possesses.
He certainly has the talent to be a ‘modern great’, because a player cannot have an average of 50 plus in ODI and a genius in limited overs cricket without having the ability to become a Test great.
However, he certainly needs to pull up his performances in the Test cricket and it is more a question of when and not if he will do it. Test Cricket is the ultimate battlefield, the ultimate Test, where greats of the game are born.
If Virat Kohli wishes to be in the league of the greats of the game, he has to turn it around in Test cricket. Otherwise, he wouldn't be doing justice to himself or his prodigious talent.