Ray Jennings, the former South Africa coach, knows quite a bit of what has gone into making Virat Kohli the Indian limited overs team’s most valuable batsman.
Through his role as coach of Royal Challengers Bangalore, Jennings has watched Kohli getting better with every season. The current tour of South Africa will be a big test for the Delhi batsman, who will play his first Test there. Johannesburg-based Jennings (59) oversees
South Africa’s national cricket academy and mentors the under-19 national team. He spoke to MiD DAY yesterday on Kohli’s strengths and challenges.
Challenge of playing in SA
It is always a challenge to play in South Africa. The conditions are different in this part of the world and South Africa are rated as the No 1 Test team in the world. Virat’s skills will be tested. The tour will be an interesting checkpoint for him to see how good he is in relation to world cricket.
He’s made it in quick time
At 25, he has become an integral part of the India set-up. Virat has grown quickly. He has captained India in one-day cricket and the pace at which he has scored runs, especially in the one-dayers, is remarkable. Not many young guys can achieve such things so fast and to see this is very, very pleasing.
What SA crowds will see…
They’ll see his aggression as a batsman as well as his skills while playing the spinners. They’ll see his mood as well. Once Virat gets on top, he definitely gets into a very dominating mood.
Exemplary work ethic
Virat has always given the impression that he is passionate about his cricket. When he trains, he trains hard. He is not one who gets into the nets and doesn’t want to get involved. His work ethic has been superb.
Two Tests are too few
This tour will be a tough test for him, but it’s a pity that there is no five-Test series. You will be judged a lot better over five Tests. That (two-Test series) is the sad part. If he does badly, how do you judge by just four knocks and if he does well, you will say he is the best in the world. This is not a good yardstick to judge him. To me, if teams are in the top four on the rankings table, nothing other than five Tests should be accepted.
A world-class mind
He is a big-time player and doesn’t hold back. He is always up for a big challenge. He has got a world-class mind; knows what to do for a world-class performance. He is always up for the big games. He thinks big and has trained in a very good side with players like Sachin & Co who have a big mentality.
He does understand what needs to be done from the mindset point of view, to stand up and be counted.