India captain Kohli is someone who lets his willow do the talking against any opposition around the world. Tagged as one of the best batsmen after the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, in all formats of the game, the run-machine has been an inspiration for youngsters as well as the ‘favourite’ for many cricket legends. In fact, Kohli also received a huge compliment from West Indies great Sir Vivian Richards who said that the Indian skipper reminds him of himself.
Former Zimbabwe captain Andy Flower, who is also the head coach of Delhi Bulls in the Abu Dhabi T10 league, called Kohli incredibly skillful.
The 52-year-old Flower coached the England cricket team between 2009 and 2014 and helped the Three Lions attain numerous title wins. Under his tenure as a coach, England won the Ashes and the 2010 ICC World Twenty20, held in the West Indies.
Flower played 9 Tests against India and scored 1138 runs at an average of 94.83, including three 100 plus scores and seven fifties. He also played 36 ODIs against India, scoring 1298 runs at an average of 40.56, including one century and 11 fifties.
In an interview with Timesofindia.com, Flower, who played 63 Tests and 213 ODIs for Zimbabwe between 1992 and 2003, gave his inputs on the Virat vs Smith debate, also talking about whether he will be open to coaching the Indian cricket team, and his favourite playing memories against India.
If you had to pick the more complete batsman between Virat Kohli and Steve Smith, who would you pick and why?
Well, it would be difficult to pick between them. Smith has done amazingly well in Test cricket. I have been surprised by how well he’s done. But he’s shown that he can adapt his game and that’s a wonderful quality to be able to adapt and evolve and develop like Smith has done.
Photo credit: BCCI
Kohli is incredibly skillful, hungry (for runs), and likes combat. He likes the battle. And I really admire that in him. I admire his energy which is up all the time. I think they have both got very good leadership traits. They’re good role models. I know Steve Smith has had a few battles in that area, obviously. But I admire them both and I’m not going to pick one or the other.
England were at their very best with you as the coach. If the opportunity presents itself, would you be willing to take on the role of coach of the Indian team?
I’ve done one year of franchise coaching and I’ve really enjoyed that actually. The variety of challenges, meeting lots of new people, making lots of good relationships with players and staff. I’ve really enjoyed that and I’m going to do at least another year of that and then probably have a think about my own coaching career and what I want to do with it. I wouldn’t rule out coaching internationally again.
And obviously, India is one of the greatest Test nations in the world. And I think it’s an honour to lead your country and represent a country either as a captain or as a coach and leader of whichever country you are committed to. So I’m just going to take this next year and enjoy my franchise challenges. And then I’ll keep my options open and reassess them.
Your favourite cricketing memory against India…
Well, I’ve got a number of really good cricketing memories against India. I’ll work through a few of them. Firstly, our debut Test was against India. Kapil Dev was playing. We had them in a little bit of trouble, and he hit them out of trouble in our debut Test match. That was really interesting to watch. And our off spinner John Traicos got five wickets against them on a pretty good track, which I think was an amazing thing to watch. Traicos was in his early 40s. He was an outstanding performer. He had played Test cricket for South Africa a long time ago. And then came in and took five wickets with his off-spin against a brilliant Indian batting lineup, including Tendulkar.
Then my first away Test match was at the Kotla (Delhi) and I got a 100 there. So, I’ve got a lovely memory of getting runs against India. It wasn’t a fully developed ground at that time, but the atmosphere and the fan following for Test cricket at that time in India was amazing. So, that was brilliant. And I’ve had some success with a bat in India. So, those are all really good memories for me.
But I think if you asked what my abiding memory is about playing against India, it would be in India and the love for the game in and around the whole country, whereas we only have 12 million people in Zimbabwe and football is the main game. Coming to India and not only playing in front of these crowds that love the game so much, but touring around the country to all sorts, all different parts of the country. And everyone knowing what was going on in the series, everyone knowing your stats, everyone knowing everything about the Zimbabwe squad. That’s my abiding memory about cricket in India.