Virat Kohli won't be better than past legends even if he breaks all records, feels Geoffrey Boycott
Until his retirement in 2013, Sachin Tendulkar’s arrival to the crease would be one filled with fervent anticipation and loud cheers. These days, Virat Kohli seems to have a similar grip over Indian cricket supporters. Even though comparisons between players belonging to different eras are quite common in the sport, former England opener Geoffrey Boycott wants every leading player to carve his own legacy instead.
“We're all human. What we see on TV, we think that it's the best ever. Is Kohli better than Sunil Gavaskar? Hang on. The kid's going to be a great player. But Gavaskar and Tendulkar were great players too. It's easy to say 'long live the king’ and 'The king is dead.' That's what happens to us all. We're all, 'Was that Tendulkar, did he really play and get a 100 hundreds?' 'Was he really better than Kohli?' We focus on what we see because we're human,” the 76-year old said during a Rotary club meeting in Mumbai.
Since taking over the Test captaincy, Kohli has turned his fortunes around as evidenced by his record of 2096 runs from 21 Tests at an average of 65.50 with 8 centuries. He also scored three double tons in this year with the 235 against England at the Wankhede Stadium propelling India to a series-sealing victory.
With 640 runs at an average of 128 in the series until now, the right-hander played a key role in helping his team stamp their authority over England. In the aftermath of his Mumbai heroics, his career Test has surged to 50.53 and thus making him the first batsman in the game's history to hold a 50-plus average in all three formats (with a decent sample set of at least five matches in each format).
Boycott felt, “He (Kohli) won't break all records. And it won't matter, even if he does. It won't make him a better player than those of the past. I broke Gary Sobers' record of most number of (Test) runs in Delhi. That doesn't make me a better batsman than him. Records are there to be broken.”
“What he has to do is carry on scoring runs and winning Test matches for his country. And then towards the end of his career, he'll be judged in the pantheon of all the greats. I'm proud for instance that England have never lost a Test when I've made a hundred. Don't get me out twice cheaply, you won't win, simple.”
‘Kohli has to make his own legacy’
Following his double century in Mumbai, England seamer James Anderson attributed Kohli’s remarkable run of form to playing on Indian pitches. But, Boycott does not want to come to any conclusion just yet.
The Yorkshireman quipped, “Kohli is a wonderful player. He has to carry on that form in India and abroad too. He'll get a chance to put that right when he comes to England in two years' time (2018 series). He's got hundreds in Australia and South Africa. It's easy to forget that not long ago, Tendulkar was God. He and Gavaskar were great batsmen too. Their legacy will stay. Kohli has to make his legacy and he's doing it.”
Among the major reasons behind Kohli’s stunning transformation over the last couple of years has been a completely devoted approach towards fitness. Despite spending most of his time in working hard on his endurance, he refuses to take it easy.
Impressed by the 28-year old’s work ethic, Boycott surmised, “Most players in any sport work very hard. It only looks easy, comfortable, but none of it is there when the guy is practising, working his socks off. It's one of the many things I like about Kohli. I hear from many ex-India players that he trained hard to get to where he is. If that's true, which I've no reason to believe it isn't, he deserves his success. Because most people earn it by hard work. Nothing comes easily, naturally. You work at it, and if you do that, you'll get better.”