Former cricketer VVS Laxman heaped praise on current Test skipper Virat Kohli, saying the Delhi batsman possessed strong basics and is a complete batsman in all formats of the game.
“The reason I mentioned a lot of Virat (Kohli) is because he knows his strengths and backs them. He is a conventional cricketer and has got strong basis,” said the retired batsman after delivering the Dilip Sardesai memorial lecture.
“If you have to perform consistently in all the three formats, you should have strong basics, which Virat has,” said the Hyderabadi whose magnificent 281 against Australia in the second Test of the 2001 series at Kolkata led India to a brilliant series-levelling victory after they followed on.
“I feel Virat has a long way to go in Test match cricket and he will break all records. His average will be close to where his average currently is in ODIs and T20s. Virat is a complete batsman in this generation,” he said.
Laxman felt that Kohli has had a huge influence on the way K L Rahul bats of late in the shortest format of the game.
“K L Rahul has transformed himself into a good T20 player and I believe that Virat has a huge influence on the transformation of Rahul. Rahul knows how to get runs in all three formats by playing in his normal, conventional, classical style,” said Laxman.
He also praised on off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who became the fastest Indian to scalp 200 Test wickets and the second-fastest in the world when he achieved the feat in the first Test against New Zealand in Kanpur in his 37th game.
Asked where he would rate Ashwin among all spinners, Laxman said, “One of the best, without a doubt. For me any great bowler or a great batsman or great cricketer is when you win matches for your team and Ashwin has just done that in the last four years.
“He has won a lot of matches (for India), some of them single-handedly. You have to always look to evolve, never stagnate as a player and always look to improve. That is another aspect of being a great player and that is what Ashwin has done from the first Test he has played. He is a thinking cricketer and a match-winner for me and I always respect match-winners,” he added.
Asked about his views about cricket under lights with pink ball, Laxman said, “It’s a work in progress, especially in India where dew is a big factor. Also the ball they used in the Duleep Trophy was a different one to what they used in the New Zealand-Australia Test match in Adelaide.
“It is more about not losing the hardness and the shine because in India the wickets will not have that much of grass cover, even though the grounds are lush green and well-maintained.
“A lot of effort and time will go in making sure that the ball is right because any match should not be dictated by ball. They are trying to make sure that the seam is thicker compared to the match played in Adelaide,” he added.
Asked why Indians are averse to DRS, he said, “I am not convinced with the hawk-eye especially for the LBW decision. I am not convinced with that technology as yet.
“Because of that, BCCI too has got some kind of (objection) and is not allowing to execute it in a series where India is involved. There is a fixed mindset that everyone is thinking that BCCI is intentionally not taking the DRS, but I feel the technology should be fool-proof,” he explained.
The 41-year-old former cricketer also recalled the contribution made by ex-national coach John Wright, who was the first foreign coach to be appointed by the BCCI.
“Within the team the growing urge to become more competitive overseas came with the arrival of, in our coaching set up, John Wright, the first overseas coach of a national side. John was laid-back, but was also very demanding.
“He believed we had what he felt in terms of talent, mental fortitude, temperament and resolve to be a strong force outside our shores,” he remarked.