Rhodes: 'Kohli is a modern day great'

Jonty Rhodes spoke of his admiration for India skipper Virat Kohli, recent Al Jazeera sting that shook the cricketing world, the World Cup in England next year among others.

Jonty Rhodes (L) in hopeful of a good showing from South Africa in next year's World Cup.   -  M. Karunakran

Former South Africa cricketer Jonty Rhodes' love affair with India continues as the fielding great was in the city on Tuesday to inaugurate a new lifestyle showroom of Japanese automotive major Isuzu.

After unveiling two sports SUV's, Rhodes took time out for a chat with Sportstar and spoke on a wide range of topics - from his admiration for India skipper Virat Kohli to the recent Al Jazeera sting that shook the cricketing world.

Excerpts from the interview

Q) During the first ODI between India and West Indies you praised Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma for the way they batted flawlessly and to lead their side to an easy win. What impressed you?

A) It was a dominating show and the duo batted beautifully, especially Kohli. Kohli's batting has been a treat to watch - nothing to take away from Rohit - but Kohli looks simply unstoppable.

Kohli is on the verge of entering the 10,000 runs club and is 81 runs short of becoming the fastest batsman to enter the elite club. He is 54 innings ahead of Sachin Tendulkar who tops the charts. What makes him so special?

I am just blown away by his conversion rates and his sheer consistency. When I was a player, I got three Test and two ODI hundreds. I got a lot of fifties (17 Test and 33 ODI 50's) but I couldn't really convert my fifties into big hundreds. But look at Kohli's conversions rates and it's phenomenal. You straightaway compare him with Tendulkar, who started at 16 and played till he was 40. I don't think with the amount of cricket Kohli is playing he will be able to get that amount of runs but he is certainly a modern day great. The sheer determination to keep winning games for India makes him a special cricketer.

India captain Virat Kohli celebrates after his scoring his 36th ODI hundred.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar


There is no doubt about Kohli the batsman but as captain do you think he has been tested?

India almost won in South Africa and the upcoming Australia tour will be an important one. After what happened in England, I am sure they will come back strongly.

READ | Spot-fixing claim in recent documentary is baseless, says PCB

The World Cup is fast approaching. How do you think the sub-continent teams will fare on English soil?

I feel the sub-continent teams will do well and India, of course, is a very strong contender. The last Champions Trophy was played in England and three out of four teams were from the sub-continent. Playing Tests in England is challenging for sub-continent teams but when it comes to white ball cricket, it's a different ball game altogether. It's just not about pace and swing as spin will come into play and India has quality spinners. India definitely has the edge but you can't underestimate the rest.

Most people have written off Pakistan after the Asia Cup debacle. But they have some quality players and can really spring a surprise. The key in England will be to keep taking wickets else the batsmen will dominate. That's where India's strength lies as it has got wrist spinners (Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal) and fast bowlers (Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah) who are accurate when it comes to execute the yorkers and extract reverse swing to trouble the batsmen. 

South Africa has not reached a World Cup final yet. Can they make it in the 2019 World Cup?

Tough one but yes, I hope it makes it to the final and breaks the jinx.  

The recent Al Jazeera investigation revealed that cricketers from England, Australia and Pakistan were involved in spot-fixing. Do you think the International Cricket Council is doing enough to stop this menace?

The game isn't played just for the fans. Players will tell you that they take a lot of pride and prestige to represent their country. I think the game's governing body is taking steps in the right direction and is taking actions against the players who get involved in such things. I don't know the exact details of the investigation but I am sure they will take the necessary action. I have seen that during my playing time and Cricket South Africa did take action against Hansie Cronje (banned for life). Spot-fixing, I think it's difficult to regulate with so much cricket being played.

Lastly, what makes you fall in love with India over and over again?

I grew up in Apartheid South Africa where people and communities were set apart. I grew up in schools and universities where white kids studied. I enjoy the diversity in India and the more time I spend here I get to know more about people and its culture. Just not me but my wife and kids also love being here and we as a family travel around and experience a difficult culture, learn from them. India is truly unique and wonderful.