Spin legend Shane Warne has rated Steve Smith as a better Test batsman than India captain Virat Kohli, saying when it comes to five-day game the Australia skipper “is the man”. Warne has listed his top 11 batsmen from those he has either seen or played with or against. On the list, Smith shares the 10th spot along with Kohli, though Warne feels the Australian just outsmarted his India contemporary when it comes to Test cricket.
“To me Steve Smith is the best Test batsman in the world,” he wrote in his News Corp column. “Virat Kohli is the best across all three formats of the game, but across five days, Steve Smith is the man.” Warne has high regards for Kohli’s batsmanship but feels the only blip in the Indian captain’s glorious career so far is his failure to score big in English conditions.
Kohli’s dismal tour of England in 2014 was the reason behind Warne’s assessment. On the contrary, Smith has made three away Ashes hundreds and averages 43.31 in the UK. “I don’t assess greatness by stats, but rather by the way someone played the game, the way they influenced results and the impact they had on all of us,” he wrote.
“To me a great batsman has to have made a hundred in three key countries: in England, against the Duke ball on seaming and swinging pitches; in Australia, on our fast-paced, bouncy tracks; and of course, in the dust bowls of India, on pitches that spin and spit,” added Warne, who played 145 Tests for Australia between 1992 and 2007.
“The hole in Kohli’s CV on the Test match stage is in England and the pressure is on the fiery but very likable Indian to carry over some double-ton magic from home soil to that country when his team tours next year.” In the list, Warne has placed West Indian legends Viv Richards and Brian Lara at the first and second positions respectively, while Sachin Tendulkar is placed third.
Next on his list are three Australians in Greg Chappell, Ricky Ponting and Allan Border, followed by South Africans Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers at seven and nine respectively. Graham Gooch is the lone Englishman in the list at number eight. Smith and Kohli complete the top 11.