Gary Cosier: Virat Kohli is the Ian Chappell of Indian cricket

Updated: 04 December, 2018 15:02 IST | Clayton Murzello | Mumbai

Ex-Aussie batsman Gary Cosier brings out similarity between India icon Virat Kohli and tough, ruthless Oz captain Ian Chappell

Virat Kohli. Pic/Getty Images
Virat Kohli. Pic/Getty Images

HAD tradition not been broken in Australian cricket this season, Gary Cosier may have sneaked in some time from his busy schedule to head to the Gabba.

But the Brisbane-based former Australia batsman, who figured in the 1977-78 series against India, will not be able to watch his favourite Test cricketer, Virat Kohli in the flesh because there is no Test scheduled in the Sunshine State – a first since the 1976-77 season.

The 65-year-old cricketer-turned psychotherapist played for three states in the 1970s – Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. He, however, ended his first-class career with Victoria after figuring in 18 Tests for Australia from 1975-76 to 1978-79.

Middle order batsman Cosier scored a hundred for South Australia against the visiting West Indies in 1975-76 and followed it up with a Test debut ton at Melbourne against Clive Lloyd’s men. Another Test hundred came against Pakistan the following season.

Being asked to open the innings in the 1977-78 series against India and the 1978-79 Ashes series didn’t do his Test career. His international cricket career ended at 26.

Excerpts from an interview:

Australia's batsman Gary Cosier in full flow during the 1977-78 against the West Indies. Pic/mid-day archives
Australia's batsman Gary Cosier in full flow during the 1977-78 against the West Indies. Pic/mid-day archives

Would you have liked to see five Tests in this edition of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy?
I think so, for a number of reasons. It’s going to take Australia some time to get into rhythm against the Indian players especially the bowling attack. I think India will give them some trouble and the Australian batsmen are not in peak form at the moment. It will take a Test or two for them to get going. The shorter series will help the Indians more than the Australians.

From a global point of you, are you a fan of five-Test series?
Yes, I am. You can still do the five (Tests). In the days gone by, you played the counties (in England) and if you came to Australia, you played the states. I understand the time constraints around that because of the international schedule. But you could still play five Tests without having to play the other matches - the T20 and ODI games.

More often than not, the first Test of a series is held in Brisbane. It’s not the case this time…
People in Queensland will miss out on that. I am all for change, but there are certain things (you shouldn’t change) To miss out on a venue where Australia have not lost a Test (in 30 years) and give that away may indicate that the playing of the game is not always the consideration.

Does this series remind you of the 1977-78 one when Australia’s star players were contracted to World Series Cricket?
It’s a bit similar. You probably don’t have the spinners which you had then, but your bowling attack is much better. That is why it will take a little while for Australia to get rhythm. Playing in the UAE versus Pakistan on those wickets is different. It’s hard to get any rhythm and Australia will have to start afresh. If they don’t play well early, they will miss the opportunity of having to get to the flow of the game.

Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell

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Which Indian batsmen are you looking forward to watching?
All of them! I would like to see the captain Virat Kohli get out (laughs). He can really play cricket.
Kohli is my favourite… he’s a genius of a batsman. He has the ability to turn it on anytime. We would have to bowl extremely well to contain him. With the ball coming on to the bat, he is the Steve Smith we don’t have.

Sure, if you get the captain out of sorts with the bat, then you are half way to winning the series, but I am not sure they are going to do it because Kohli is a fantastic cricketer. He is the Ian Chappell of Indian cricket. Kohli is always up in the field; always ready for a contest, revels in the contest.

So, India clear favourites in your book?
Yes, but cricket is a very funny game. Australia have the attack to bowl extremely well - no doubt about that - and if the players who are in and out of form get into form then we’ll do okay. But
India are an exceptionally talented team. Under MS Dhoni and Kohli in particular, India have changed their attitude.

You scored two fifties in the 1977-78 series against India but for a lost cause…
I enjoyed the challenge of batting against the Indian spinners. It was a great series. We won the final Test at Adelaide by 47 runs and India scored 445 in the fourth innings of that Test. I think it was the then second highest run-chase in a losing cause. Going into the final Test 2-2 was just fantastic. It was a good wicket and there were some terrific contributions from both teams. I remember our fast bowler Ian Callen spending the whole night ill in the bathroom and he came out the next day and performed (three wickets apiece in the first and second innings).

Tell us about facing Sunil Gavaskar, who opened the bowling in the first Test of the Melbourne Test…
Sunil opened the bowling and bowled bouncers. I didn’t know what to do with them because the last thing I wanted was to get out to that little fast bowler (laughs).

You ended your international career early…
I decided that I had enough of the politics of cricket. It was a volatile scenario. A few of us lived through it and it’s hard to explain. There was a lot of emotion involved in those years.

You played with both Chappell brothers – Ian and Greg in state cricket…
I had the privilege of playing with both. Ian was an aggressive thinker. He batted at No. 3 and liked to hook and pull; was an excellent cutter too. He always had fire in his eyes when on the field. He was aggressive in his field placements, demanded a lot from his players and gave everything himself.

Greg was everything you wanted a batsman to be. He was an elegant, graceful batsman and a good medium pace bowler; an unbelievable fieldsman as well. He was a good captain, but probably not as good as his brother. They were different personalities, though – Ian extroverted, Greg introverted. I batted a lot with Greg (for Australia and Queensland) and he was fantastic. For me, Greg, Viv Richards and Barry Richards were the classical players.

What do you do now?
I have a psychotherapy business. I deal with a range of issues with my clients including mental health. I also deal with sports people - golfers and a few cricketers – regarding visualisation.

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First Published: 04 December, 2018 09:17 IST

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