Debasis Sen, Southampton: Aussie spin legend Shane Warne on Wednesday rated Virat Kohli as the best batsman across all formats at the moment. The former Hampshire legend considered his compatriot Steve Smith as the best batsman in test cricket though. Talking exclusively to a few travelling Indian journos at the Ageas Bowl, Warne said, “Kohli definitely is the best batsman in the world at the moment across all formats. But if you ask me who the best batsman in test cricket, it has to be Steve Smith.”
On being asked to compare between Tendulkar and Virat, the spin wizard from Oz said, “To me Brian Lara and Sachin were the two best batsmen in my time. I started in 1990 and ended in 2013. In this 23 years span I saw Jaques Kallis, Ricky Ponting, Graham Gooch, Kevin Pietersen, Kumar Sangakkara, Dravid. All of them were fantastic players. Then there are the two stand outs. Tendulkar and Lara were some much better than the others. I am not disrespecting the other great players but these two are class. I think Virat can go down as one of the great but you can’t say that right now as I think you can’t judge a player before he plays in all conditions against all players for a long period of time. On present form Kohli is definitely the best player in the world at the moment.”
Warne, who was at the Ageas Bowl to attend a function to felicitate the former Hampshire players like Robin Smith, Dominic Cork, Dmitri Mascarenhas will be around to watch the fourth test match between India and England.
Talking about the state of the series, Warne said, “I have been following the series and I think it has been a great series. The ball has dominated at times fare bit, especially at Lord’s it hung around a lot. India could have nearly won the first test match. England played exceptionally on the second and India played well in the third.”
The former leg-spinner had a word of advice for KL Rahul. According to Warne, “I would love to see Rahul go after James Anderson. I would like Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri to say Rahul that your job is to take Jimmy down early. Go after him because if Jimmy gets his tail up early and dictates terms he will destroy any line up.”
The former Aussie great is surprised as well as equally amazed to see the Indian medium pacers.
“They are bowling faster. I really love what India are doing. I enjoy watching them play. It’s an exciting time for Indian cricket I recon. I think they have got a team which can win in any conditions. Here knowing the conditions I would play two spinners here on this track. I think Jadeja and Ashwin would be handful here. As much as the fast bowling they are fantastic.”
The recent times has seen batsmen from all countries failing to dominate the spinners. According to Warne, “I don’t know. I think while trying to smash the ball in T20 all the time the batsmen they lose the certain way of playing spin bowling. You know using the crease going back, working on single, manipulating the fields. I don’t think they have that. They don’t know whether to block it or hit it. You look back to Mark Waugh, Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, the way they used to play the spin. We don’t have that kind of players now days.”
The former leg spinner also had words of advice for Ravichandran Ashwin.
“Ashwin needs to get more patient. He got to find a way how the conditions are going to suit him. He doesn’t need to take four or five wickets here. He just needs to take one or two wickets and break the partnerships,” said Warne.
The Aussie great rates England leg spinner Adil Rashid highly. “I think Adil Rashid is getting better and better. I think Pakistan spinner Yasir Shah is an intelligent bowler. Then you also have Mitchell Swepson who has a bright future,” said Warne.
The former Aussie legend considers India will start as favourites in the forthcoming series against Australia Down Under. The hosts will be without their captain Steve Smith and David Warner.
According to Warne, “I don’t think India would have ever in their history will be touring to Australia to play a test series as favourites like this time. It would be a great summer.”
Lastly on his chances of returning to the Indian Premier League, Warne said, “Yeah I would love to be involved with IPL next season. I am hoping to be involved again. I have got a meeting with the Rajasthan Royals officials in a couple of weeks.”