Virat Kohli keen on county stint ahead of England tour

The Indian skipper — the second-ranked Test batsman in the world and the best in one-day internationals — had an uncharacteristically ordinary spell during the England tour in 2014.

Virat Kohli wants to avoid a repeat of his poor form on English soil and plans to train there, to prepare for India's tour, starting July. (File Photo)   -  AFP

Virat Kohli says that he is keen to play county cricket to get used to the conditions on English soil, ahead of India's tour of the country, later, in 2018.

The Indian skipper — the second-ranked Test batsman in the world and the best in one-day internationals — had an uncharacteristically ordinary spell during the England tour in 2014.

The prolific run-getter managed just 134 runs, in 10 innings, a far cry from the average of 53.40, over 66 Tests, including 21 centuries, which earned him the moniker “King Kohli”.

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He wants to avoid a repeat of his poor form on English soil and plans to train there, to prepare for India's tour, starting July. “Playing county cricket will help me improve my game,” the 29-year-old batsman told an Indian TV channel.

“I think it makes things more challenging and more competitive, and there are no guarantees whether you are going to do well, even if you go in advance. It's just about giving yourself more opportunity, to get used to the conditions that you are not used to.”

The all-important series will see India play England in three Twenty20 matches, three ODIs and five Tests. It has been widely reported in the Indian press that Kohli would join the English county side, Surrey, for a brief stint, in June.

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Surrey's director Alec Stewart had expressed interest in signing Kohli after reports the Indian cricket board would allow its top batsman to skip the one-off Test against Afghanistan, starting June 14.

Kohli had stressed the need for getting used to local conditions, after India, the world's top Test team, lost a series to South Africa, 2-1, in January.

“If players get an opportunity then why not,” he said of Indians, taking whatever chances they get to hit abroad. However, speculation of Kohli's debut in county cricket has rubbed some the wrong way.

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Former England paceman Bob Willis has said that England risked losing Test matches, at home, if “we're accommodating all these visiting players”. “I can't stand overseas players in county cricket,” he said, to an English sports channel.

“The only way to improve our Test team is to have as many England-qualified players playing in the County Championship as possible. Instead, they're going to pay Kohli, presumably, five figures a match, so he can hone his skills in English conditions, before a Test series. It's a nonsense.”