Indian captain and world’s number one batsman across formats Virat Kohli in a chat show with his Teammate Mayank Agarwal has revealed that it was one of the suggestions coming from Ravi Shastri that helped him becoming the kind of batsman which he is today. He also had some words of appreciation for former Indian coach Duncan Fletcher.
The story dates back to 2014 where Virat had a horrible series against England. In the 5 Test matches of that tour, he could only manage to score 134 runs in 10 innings. It isn’t a secret that the 2014 England tour was his worst series ever and that forced Virat to change a few basic things associated with his game.
….So what changed after?
Virat recalls he approached Sachin Tendulkar after the tour and took some suggestions from him but one very significant change he made in his batting after that tour was standing outside the crease while facing the fast bowlers. He started standing outside to negate any swing and seam movement and it worked really well for him. The result was evident when he toured Australia where he scored 692 runs with 4 100s in the series.
The next time he went to England in 2018, he used the same method to score 593 runs at an average of 59.30 including a couple of centuries at that tour. Kohli told Mayank in the chat that he applied this method after Ravi Shastri suggested him to do so right after the England tour in 2014.
” It was actually after the 2014 England Test tour, he called me (Virat) and Shikhar Dhawan to his room and he called for a bat as well. He told me something which I started practicing after the series as well, i.e, to stand outside the batting crease. And he explained the mindset behind doing it that you know you should be the one controlling the space you’re playing in and not give the bowler so many opportunities to get out. So many dismissals get taken out when you’re standing outside the crease and you are more in control. ” – Virat Kohli told Mayank in a chat show which is available on BCCI’s official website.
He also talked about how Duncan Fletcher, Indian coach at that time helped him with his broad stance to play the ball more convincingly from the front foot. Both Duncan and Ravi told him to work on their suggestions only if Virat had no problems playing short balls with the changed technique and Virat assured them that he never feared short balls.
Ever since Virat made those two changes, he didn’t look beyond in his Test career which had got kind of stuck in the mediocrity as he was averaging only 39 when he went to Australia. Kohli, after that infamous England tour has scored over 5300 Test runs in these 6 years at an average of 61. He also scored 21 tons in that period.
However by no means, his career saw an upward curve only because of these changes only. A lot of players get a lot of suggestions from their coaches and ex players but they don’t go on to become world beaters and hence the credit ultimately goes to Virat only for his unbelievable training regime, work ethics and all the other factors contributing to his success but the way these two suggestions worked, it gives a fair idea that you don’t always need a coach who has played over 100 games to improve your game. A lot of times, coaches who have had not so great careers as a cricketer themselves can also tell you many more things than the coaches Indian fans in general are obsessed with, i.e, the people with huge experience of playing cricket.
Shastri though, has played 80 Tests and 150 ODIs but sometimes justified and a lot of times the agenda driven criticism makes him look like a failed cricketer. All you need is a coach with great observational skills regardless of his experience.