Former England all-rounder Ian Botham hailed Indian captain Virat Kohli’s attitude and leadership qualities and felt Indian cricket was in safe hands under him.
“Virat takes the game to the opposition, he takes a stand for his players. I would have loved to play against him. He is the right guy to take Indian cricket forward,” Botham told The Times of India during an online chat session with the Playwrite Foundation.
Kohli often leads from the front on and off the field. His aggression on the field rubs off on his teammates while his emphasis on fitness has seen Indian players improve greatly in that aspect.
He often backs his team despite criticism and has maintained that his team’s performances have improved despite defeats in away series.
In an age where the balance of the team is vital, the number of quality all-rounders at your disposal could prove to be crucial.
Botham who was one of the ‘all-rounder quartet’ in the 1980s that included India’s Kapil Dev, New Zealand’s Richard Hadlee and Pakistan’s Imran Khan, said producing all-rounders is hard work.
“All-rounders can’t be manufactured, they don’t grow on trees,” he told the newspaper.
“The workload is double and it obviously takes a toll on your body. Just imagine Kapil… the amount of bowling he did on those Indian pitches, which had very little to offer, that too in the scorching heat of Chennai and Delhi. I can’t see anyone in the present generation being able to do that,” he added.
England have managed to produce quality all-rounder after Botham with Ben Stokes perhaps the best one in the world.
“Ben (Stokes) is better than a mile to Freddy. Ben Stokes is the closest version of me, he plays like me with his heart on his sleeve. Flintoff was good but Stokes is just exceptional. He is the best cricketer in the world now,” Botham said when asked who’s the better between Stokes and Flintoff.
Recalling his playing days, Botham felt it was a golden era for all-rounders.
“It was a privilege to play in that era. We spoilt the fans for around 10-15 years. I don’t think world cricket has seen so many allrounders rubbing shoulders at the same time. In every tour, I used to see what Richard has done, what Kaps (Kapil) has done, what Immi (Imran) has done. There was a great rivalry,” he said.