Auckland: Former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe today paid a big compliment to star batsman Virat Kohli, terming him a combination of India's premier batting trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag.
Crowe feels that Kohli is the "beacon in this rebuilding team" who will need to rapidly learn to become a true leader and a role model for millions.
Virat Kohli. Pic/ AFP
"In some ways, this young giant (Kohli) is a combination of all those three (Sehwag, Tendulkar and Dravid), learning a bit from them all to shape his own unique creation. He is the next chosen one. He exudes the intensity of Rahul, the audacity of Virender, and the extraordinary range of Sachin. That doesn't make him better, simply sui generis, his own unique kind," Crowe wrote in his column for ESPN Cricinfo.
"At present, he is a beacon in this rebuilding team, while some of those around him who have come in to fill the void left by the big three struggle to cope. Already he is the leader of the batting line-up, with just 22 Tests to his name, and so a huge responsibility beckons," Crowe pointed out.
Crowe reckoned that Kohli has quickly grown from being a "pupil to teacher" from the time he saw a precocious but immensely talented teenager as the coach of Royal Challengers Bangalore during the first edition of IPL.
"In many ways, he follows the essence of life: loving what he does and doing what he loves, and learning all he can, often at a rapid pace. Kohli has gone from pupil to teacher quickly, and his next level is to become a master. That he will achieve. It's in his eyes. I watched this young 19-year-old when he joined Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2008, for the inaugural IPL. Often he fell victim to his own seduction, his growing, glowing image, mixed in with his confusion about who to bat and be like, as he had so many choices. I often encouraged him to simply play straighter, be wiser in shot selection, put the odds more in his favour," Crowe said.
Crowe said that Kohli's fierce focus is a hallmark of greatness that he is destined to achieve in years to come. "His badge is one of courage. He is fiercely focused. He is often fiery and emotional, possibly a product of his upbringing in Delhi. Yes, a fire burns within, sometimes wildly. His aggressive streetfighting qualities are worn on his sleeve. He looks for a fight. He singles out opposition for face-to-face interrogation; he even confronts officials," Crowe said. The New Zealand captain felt that a bit of controlled aggression won't be bad as millions look upto him.
"He will need to learn rapidly that to be a true leader and role model to millions all over the globe, the ugly stuff needs to be tamed, even put away.... It's an important lesson, one Sachin and Rahul will have taught him, yet his own restlessness is still dominant. Someone needs to guide him on this vital code."
On a positive context, Crowe termed Kohli's audacity as "shameless" but also reminded him about how Sehwag's slump in form cost the 'Nawab of Najafgarh' dearly. "Kohli's audacity is shameless. He is bold and beautiful in his shot selection and his style. When in the mood, he can carve anyone apart, just as Sehwag did when awoken. Kohli will need to be reminded of Sehwag, that temporary loss of form that came in patches and grew to become one patch at the end."
In his column, Crowe goes onto compare the batting techniques of Tendulkar and Kohli.
"Not unsurprisingly, Kohli will have learned mostly from Sachin, and even if it isn't so obvious, it's slowly becoming clearer. His stance is more closed than Sachin's, resulting in the leg-side stroke played around the pad, yet it is straightening year by year. By the time he reaches full throttle in a couple of years, he will be perfectly aligned, as the master was. His last-second tap of the bat as the bowler gathers is such a classic and vital element from the Sachin book. This last tap sends a spark of electricity through his body and his eyes, then feet, then through his flowing vortex sword, all coming alive as one. Every ball is treated with puissance, a mighty force," Crowe wrote.