Willis: ‘Virat Kohli should be made to suffer’

Former England skipper Bob Willis says India skipper Kohli shouldn’t be allowed to play county cricket and the focus should only be on England-qualified players.

Kohli is expected to play for Surrey in the Division One of English county in his bid to prepare for the five-Test series in England.   -  K.R. DEEPAK

Letting Virat Kohli play county cricket is “nonsense”, feels former England captain Bob Willis, who wants the prolific Indian captain to “suffer” from the wretched form he endured in 2014, when his team comes here for a Test series later this year.

Kohli is expected to play for Surrey in the Division One of English county in his bid to prepare for the five-Test series in England, which has been his focus for sometime now.

“I can’t stand overseas players in county cricket,” Willis told Sky Sports.

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“He should be made to suffer and average 30 in England as he has done before. We don’t want England starting to lose Test matches at home because we’re accommodating all of these visiting players,” Willis commented.

Apart from Kohli, the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara (Yorkshire) and Ishant Sharma (Sussex) are also set to play for different sides.

Willis, however, is upset that England will be losing home advantage ahead of the series and termed it as a detrimental move for the counties.

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“It doesn’t benefit the players stranded in the second XI year on year and the youngsters. The only way to improve our Test team is to have as many England-qualified players playing in the County Championship as possible,” said Willis, who has played 90 Test matches for his country taking 325 wickets.

“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,” fumed Willis.

The 68-year-old feels that like last time, when Kohli failed to score a single half-century across five Tests, England should once again make him suffer.

However Surrey’s director of women’s cricket, Ebony Rainford-Brent felt that Kohli’s presence will help them boost the profile of county cricket.

“Box office players like Kohli will give county cricket a bit of a buzz and it should be celebrated. You want the best people playing and if that turns out to be for Surrey, then so be it.”

She gave the example of Kumar Sangakkara, who had a prolific season for Surrey, last year.

“Look at Sangakkara, for example, and the amount the Surrey players soaked up from playing alongside a great like that for the last two years. Hearing they may now be around Kohli, I think the players would be excited by that.”

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