‘Kohli is a little fiery… he doesn’t overdo it’

Former West Indies star Sir Vivian Richards feels India skipper Virat Kohli will return with a better batting average from England this time around. 

Sir Vivian Richards during an interaction in Bengaluru on Wednesday.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Virat Kohli may have endured a miserable tour of England four years ago, but Sir Vivian Richards believes India's captain will be a force to reckon with this time around.

Back in 2014, Kohli averaged 13.4 over five Tests, and managed a top score of 40 in the ODIs. “I'll back him to improve on that, coming out of there [with an average] in the fifties or high forties,” Richards said here on Wednesday. 

“He has improved tremendously as a batsman. I'll put my money on him scoring. He hasn't quite done it to the English as he has to other teams around the world. That should be a huge motivator.”

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The former West Indies star endorsed Kohli's decision to play in the County Championship, where he will turn out for Surrey ahead of India's tour of England, which begins in July. “He's smart enough and that's one way of getting yourself fully acclimatised, by playing county cricket,” he said.

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The 66-year-old fully approved of Kohli's aggression on the field. “He's a little fiery. And no, [he doesn't overdo it]. It's when you start going as if you're in a boxing match, that's when it gets nasty. But I remember when he was in Australia they gave him plenty. To be fair, you cannot just stand there and take it,” he said. Fast bowlers, felt Richards, had to be paid back in their own coin.

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“I love guys who stand up to fast bowlers...they think that because they have a ball in hand, at times they can intimidate you. If you're good enough and you have that ability, you respond. I didn't mind it when they sledged me; I was in their faces.” He had enjoyed watching the IPL, with the likes of Rishabh Pant and K.L. Rahul in action, Richards stated.

“I'm privileged to see modern-day players do justice to the way I would have played the game...I'm not one of these guys to gloat about what happened yesterday. I'm happy to see what's happening today.” However, a hundred-ball format — something proposed by the England and Wales Cricket Board — was a step too far, felt Richards. “Let's not run too fast with some of the ideas we have. People now want to play 10-overs a side. Sooner or later, we may have a 'One-One'. I just hope we stick to the formats we have now.”

Richards was in the city as brand ambassador of the American University of Antigua College of Medicine, run by the Manipal Education and Medical Group.