Sir Richard Hadlee picks Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, AB de Villiers as best batsmen of current generation
New Zealand cricket legend Sir Richard Hadlee had words of high praise for Virat Kohli labelling the Indian Test skipper as “world class” and adding that it was a treat to watch the 27-year-old bat, CricketNext reported on Wednesday. Apart from Kohli, Hadlee picked out New Zealand’s skipper Kane Williamson and South Africa’s AB de Villiers as the three best batsmen of the current generation.
"He (Kohli) is world class clearly and is a phenomenal player. It's a real joy to watch (him play). He plays proper cricket shots in all forms of the game, even in T20 cricket. The four hundreds in a row he scored in the IPL were beautiful to watch," Hadlee said. "He stamps his impression on the game and looks to dominate the bowlers. It takes a brave batsman to do that and he is showing no fear. (He's) beautiful to watch.”
Asked of his opinion on the calls from various quarters for Kohli to assume the Indian captaincy in the shorter formats of the game as well, Hadlee declined to comment stating that it was a matter to be dealt with by the BCCI.
"I don't want to interfere with what India do. It's not unusual to have different captains in different forms of the game. That's the decision for local authorities (to take)," he said.
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Hadlee also spoke highly of Williamson, whom the former all-rounder claims will break many of the Black Caps’ cricket records by the time he hangs up his boots.
"They (Williamson and Kohli) are different sorts of players. Kane Williamson is a fantastic player. He, without doubt, will be our best-ever batsman. He (Williamson) will break all the New Zealand batting records in time and again, he plays normal cricket shots. He just places the ball, sometimes he has the power-hit, but (generally) he plays normal cricket shots,” he said.
Another player whom Hadlee loves to watch is Kohli’s RCB teammate De Villiers, best known for his abilities to massacre any world-class bowling attack.
"(AB) De Villiers is another of those really destructive and orthodox players who can take the game away. So they are the top three in world cricket and rankings would reflect that. They are different and a joy to watch," Hadlee said.
Hadlee compares the big four
Hadlee turned back the clock to speak about the pleasant rivalry he shared with the three other big all-rounders during his playing days – India’s Kapil Dev, England’s Ian Botham and Pakistan’s Imran Khan. While the former world record holder for the most Test wickets rated himself as a better bowler, he singled out Ian Botham as the most complete player out of the four.
Hadlee conceded that the four used to follow each other’s careers closely but added that doing so was a hectic task in the olden days.
"We did that, (but) mind you technology was a bit different in our day. We had to read it in newspapers that Kapil got five wickets or Beefy (Botham) got a hundred. We kept an eye on each other because we were similar sort of players even though we had different skill sets,” Hadlee said.
"We were interested to know what others were doing and clearly when we were playing against each other. I rated Imran as the better of the four because he was more consistent with the bat and ball in my view. I'd like to think I was the better bowler than the others, but my batting was a weak link. And stats would back that," he added.