India recently won the three-match T20I series against West Indies. Captain Virat Kohli was instrumental for India as he scored quick-fire half-centuries in both wins. The preparations for the next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia are off a great start for India with the win and an in-form Kohli.
But, former England spinner Monty Panesar believes that Kohli’s workload might become a problem for India. At the Ekamra Sports Literature Fest in New Delhi, Panesar said that the Indian captain might burn himself out by the time World Cup comes next year.
“Kohli’s challenge is to perform in every game,” Panesar said. “He is doing it now but how long can he maintain that? He is burning himself out for the T20 World Cup and needs rest.”
Kohli has been one of India’s most consistent performers in T20Is. In 2019 alone, he has 466 runs in 10 innings, including three unbeaten half-centuries in his last five innings.
But, Panesar thinks India are relying too much on Kohl and that it would be difficult for any player, even in the team itself, to match him for skill or fitness.
“He is such a great player with dedication to fitness and sports,” he said. “It is so high that that other players are catching up to him. He is in different bracket and that’s normal for him to play with a strike of 120 in almost every game.”
Panesar, who took 167 wickets in 50 Test matches, said that it was great to see the Indian pacers dominate the scene but observed that it was too early to brand them as their greatest team.
“The quality of seamers is better to take out spinners,” he said. “[Mohammed] Shami is a great bowler and I would like to see him open the bowling for India. It’s because of Kohli, who has improved the seam department. Spin was good but that is it.”
“But I want to see that same seamers who have done well against Bangladesh do well against South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and England. Only then, we will see,” he added.
Panesar, however, felt that the spinners will be key when the T20 World Cup takes place in Australia next year.
“The team which has a good spin department will do well in T20 World Cup,” he said. “You will get pace there because the pitches have it. Batsmen will find it easy. But to get the pace on the ball is the challenge and takes more effort. Spinners is key in Australia.”
Earlier this year, Panesar had published his book ‘The Full Monty’, in which talked bout his time as a cricketer and playing in England. He is best remembered for his bowling in India in 2012, a four-match series which England won.
But a year later, a shoulder injury and later, mental health issues saw a decline in Panesar’s career. He wrote about mental health-related issues in his book as well.
“Small issues like umpire’s decision or dropped catch would frustrate me,” he said. “The conversations I am having with myself are unkind and needed to be more empathetic. I realised to not force myself to pick wickets and I need to be in happier place.”
While cricketers have slowly started opening about the issue, Panesar said it is still a long way to go.
“It’s a team-based sport. The coach has asked you to play the next game but you are not doing well with a string of low performances but he still has faith in me,” he said. “So, you think if I should open up and talk about this? But I cannot because it’s difficult. Male are supposed to be brash and providers of the family. They are not supposed to have mental health problems. It’s looks weak but we are human beings after all.”