Kohli is greatest ODI batsman to have played the game: Australia captain

Vastavam web: That Virat Kohli is destined to be among the pantheons of all-time greats is an oft-repeated assertion but for former Australia captain Michael Clarke, the India skipper is already the “greatest ODI batsman to have ever played the game”. Kohli, the world’s no.1 Test and ODI batsman, led India through a historic tour of Australia, during which the team won the Test and ODI rubbers and drew the T20 International series. Kohli’s India was the first team ever not to lose any series Down Under and along the way, he continued to add to his rapidly-rising count of international hundreds.

“To me, Virat Kohli is the greatest batsman to have ever played one-day cricket. I have no doubts after seeing what he has achieved for India,” Clarke, himself a former World Cup-winning captain, told PTI in an interview. Kohli has already scored 10,385 runs in 219 ODIs with an astounding average of 59 plus, including 39 hundreds. An unabashed Kohli fan, Clarke said that the 30-year-old Indian’s passion is unmatchable.

“Respecting every individual is very important. It starts with respecting elders regardless of profession,” Clarke, who has been a chip of the old bloc when it comes to traditions, said. But former batting mainstay also spoke about the need to not make one “mistake” the focus of somebody’s career. “Professional sportspersons are role models, recognized and they have a responsibility. Having said that, everyone makes mistakes and one needs to move on and learn from them,” said Clarke, who played 115 Tests and 245 ODIs for Australia. Asked if India are favourites to win the World Cup, Clarke said, “Certainly one of the favourites with the kind of bowling talent India have at the moment. The batting was always strong and they also have wonderful young spinners.

What has impressed Clarke is the fact that India doesn’t have any “apparent weakness in the bowling department”. “Jasprit Bumrah is a skillful bowler who is improving every day. He continues to get better with his seam, swing, and pace. He is the best death bowler in ODI cricket at the moment,” said Clarke. However, the cricket analyst in him also feels that England will be a very difficult team to beat at home. “England is a very good ODI side and will be hard to beat at home. Also, I would like Australia to be in the mix. Australia will get better when the frontline pacers including Nathan Coulter Nile come back,” explained Clarke.

Talking about Australian cricket, Clarke is hopeful that things will change for the better very soon if there is good leadership (not captaincy). “There is plenty of talent in Australian cricket. We have good young players playing Sheffield Shield. They still believe Test cricket is the pinnacle,” he said. But he offered a word of caution too. “A lot of hard work is needed and good leadership, which can select the right guys, back them and give them time to perform,” he said.