With a win percentage of 59.01 – almost 15 more than the next best MS Dhoni (45) – in Test matches and 70.43 in ODIs – the next best is Dhoni’s 59.52 – Virat Kohli has resounding numbers to vouch for the ‘most successful Indian captain ever’ tag. But an ICC trophy continues to be an Achilles’ heel in what has so far been nothing of short of a stellar captaincy career for Kohli in international cricket.
The World Test Championship final was once again a reminder that bilateral results and second-best outcomes are no match for an ICC title. The fans did not waste much time to run after Kohli’s head after his third attempt in winning a world title resulted in a disappointment. Does that make Kohli a bad captain? English cricketer Peter Trego certainly doesn’t think so. In fact, the county stalwart is of the opinion that India are lucky to have a player Kohli as their leader.
“Kohli’s personal performances have been extraordinary. The Indian team’s performance generally has been excellent. I think he does a brilliant job under such pressure. No doubt that captaining the Indian cricket team is probably the most pressurised job in world cricket. Kohli does a pretty good job, I think the supporters need to cut him some slack and remind themselves that how lucky India are to have Virat Kohli,” Trego told Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview ahead of the India vs England five-match Test series starting on August 4.
Trego, who has more than 22-years of first-class cricket behind him, and is considered to be one of the most talented cricketers to have never played for England, said captaining an Indian side is perhaps the most difficult job in world cricket because of the load of expectations.
WATCH: ‘India lucky to have Virat Kohli leading them’: English cricketer Peter Trego
“Being an Indian captain is a hard job in any format. He’s obviously the talisman for Indian cricket. This is the thing that the Indian cricket fans perhaps need to realise, they officially are the second-best team in the world, that is not a bad place to be in. I know you aim to be No.1 but that’s not always possible,” Trego said.
The former Somerset cricketer also said New Zealand had a massive advantage over India in the WTC final because of the English conditions and backed Kohli’s thoughts of a best of three final in the future.
“English conditions and New Zealand conditions are quite similar. Playing New Zealand in England was always going to be a tough challenge for the Indian players. Virat was so right when he made the comment that it should’ve been a three-match series to see who are the World Test champions,” he said.
You don’t average 45-50 in Test cricket if you’re not a class act: Trego on Pujara
Kohli was not the only one coping criticism after India’s loss in the WTC final to New Zealand. Test No.3 Cheteshwar Pujara continues to be under pressure for a spot in the England series after his low returns and inability to keep the scoreboard moving at the desired rate in the last few Tests. Trego, however, said a team needs players like Pujara in their side, who averages over 45 and can the tire opposition bowlers out in Test cricket.
“A lot of these comments are made after the match. I can win a lottery every week if I can pick my numbers after it has been drawn. You don’t average 45-50 in Test cricket (without being a class act),” Trego said.
“That is a great contribution to the team. It’s actually very easy to focus on Kohli and Pujara and say they need to more. To be fair they pulled their way. It’s probably the guys around them that need to step up a bit and perform better. In Test cricket you need someone who can bat two sessions, tire the bowlers down and Pujara does that day and day out More often than not he bats 100 or 150 balls. He does a great job for the Indian team,” he added.
The India-England series will be determined by how well Indian batsmen play against swing: Trego
Kohli’s India will be aiming to win a series in England after 14 years when they take on Joe Root’s men in the first Test at Trent Bridge. Trego said it will boil down to how well the Indian batsmen handle the pace and swing of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood.
“When England travels to India, there is only one question, can the English batsmen play spin well? That normally determines the result of the series. This time around, can the Indian batsmen cope with swinging Dukes ball.
“England have a phenomenal seam-bowling attack led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad. If you get through those two you’ve got Mark Wood, you’ve Chris Woakes. That’s going to be challenging for the Indian batsmen but one thing you do know about Indian batsmen is that they are technically brilliant,” he added.
The all-rounder who has played 223 first-class matches, 198 List A games and 2018 T20s, has turned presenter of the show Beyond the Boundaries in Discovery+.
“One thing we wanted to do when we filmed Beyond the Boundary was to show how much good stuff cricket does to different people all over the world. We went to schools, charity, refugee camps, and some very difficult situations and the overriding passion was that cricket was their No.1 passion,” he said about the show.
(Beyond The Boundary is currently streaming on Discovery+)