Debasis Sen, Centurion: It was the first meeting between the two at the official dinner hosted by the Indian High Commission at India House at Johannesburg on Thursday. Dr Bacher feels India has found a great ambassador in Kohli and has all the qualities to be one of the all time best captains for India. Xtratime.in caught up with the former administrator on his way back from the party to his residence in Jo’burg.
How was the meeting with Virat Kohli?
It was the first time I met him personally. I was highly impressed with him. He was asked to speak a few words in front of the High Commissioner of India in South Africa. He spoke very well, he was articulate and confident. I watched him play and I think he and AB De Villiers to me are the pick of my all time cricketers. Both Virat and AB are fantastic cricketers and are great ambassadors of the game.
Virat has grown in stature both as a batsman and as a captain. What has impressed you most about Virat?
I watched the match in Cape Town and I was very impressed with his captaincy. I told him that he (Virat) reminded me like an Australian cricketer on the field. He is aggressive and positive. I think India’s got a fantastic captain in him. He is the leader and he is the boss. I am a big fan of Virat Kohli as I am of AB De Villiers. I like Kohli’s mindset, which is that of a tough competitor. Look, he is a wonderful batsman and a formidable leader.
Were you disappointed with his dismissals in both the innings at Newlands?
I have played my first game at Newlands when I was seventeen years old in 1960’s. I played there for the next 14 years and watched all international matches till date. So we are talking about close to 60 years that I have been watching matches at Newlands. I told him (Kohli) that I have never ever seen a Newlands pitch as fast and bouncy. I don’t think anyone can explain it as it has been a drought and you expected the wicket to turn but it didn’t happen. And I think our bowlers had an advantage as our fast bowlers are genuinely quick. Indian bowlers were also good and it was a very close match. It could have gone either way.
Will you be at the Super Sport Club to watch him bat?
Oh yes, I will be at the Super Sport Club on all the five days of the test match.
Talking about the relationship between the two boards, how do you see it develop over the years?
I don’t think it’s about the two boards but what has evolved was that both I and Mr Dalmiya ensured a very strong cricket relationship between the two countries. Boards change as so do the administrators but I think the roots of the foundation won’t change. I was very impressed what your captain and Ravi (Shastri) shared as they regard South African cricket as very special. India and South Africa are great competitors, but equally great friends across all levels of contact… Look at the IPL, which has given exposure to so many from South Africa.
With the Day/Night test cricket and four day test matches, how do you see the future of test cricket?
Look, this is a big interesting debate. I am concerned because of the pressure of the One Day and T20 cricket in India primarily. I am concerned about the future of test cricket in the next ten years. AB (de Villiers) took the team to India in 2015 to play four test matches and I must confess that the crowd turnout on all the matches were very poor. But the turnout during the T20I matches was amazing. I think it is a concern for world cricket.
Lastly, can you take us to the reception when you landed in Kolkata?
That’s a memory I will never forget in my life. We arrived in Calcutta amidst a rousing reception. There were some 90000 spectators at the Eden Gardens with another 20000 people outside. We won the toss and I still remember Andrew Hudson and Jimmy Cook went to open the batting for South Africa. I was on the field and I still remember Andrew Hudson couldn’t handle the crowd. Kapil got him with the first ball that he bowled. That was history in the making between the two countries.