'Best in the world': Maxi on Kohli
Direct Hit's Glenn Maxwell breaks down the genius that is Virat Kohli, analysing everything from his competitive desire to his character outside cricket
Name your format, name your conditions, and there's every chance Virat Kohli is the best batsman for the occasion. The West Indies were on the wrong end of his class only a few days ago and we've certainly all been there. That was his 36th ODI hundred, and I saw that 20 of those have been made while chasing down a total. To be consistently winning games for his team off his own bat like that is remarkable.
One of the main things that separates Virat from the pack is his hunger. He’s got an insatiable appetite for runs, for being the best at everything – the best fielder, the best fitness-wise, the best batter … he’s got an incredible desire to just dominate.
When I look at what he's done in all three formats, consistently, I think he's the best player in the world.
This should give you an idea of just how good he is. When India were last out here for an ODI series, back in January 2016, he was in unbelievable form, to the point that we were sort of playing to get the other 10 blokes out instead. In four straight innings he made 91, 59, 117 and 106 – that's an incredible series for a player to have. The 106 he made at Canberra was phenomenal. When you walk to the crease, it normally takes 10 -15 balls to get in. That day, with Virat, it looked like he’d already been batting for an hour. He walked out and just hit the middle of the bat consistently from ball one. It didn't matter where we put fielders, he just hit them elsewhere.
In the one-day game, it doesn’t seem to matter what the rest of the Indian team looks like if he's playing well. He feels like he can win the game by himself, and as an opponent, that's a pretty scary prospect when one player has that self-belief, and the ability as well.
I mentioned Virat's hunger as being a big point that puts him above the rest, but there's also his technique, which is almost flawless. He hits the middle of the bat so much more often than everyone else, he looks like he has more time than everyone else, and he makes good decisions a lot more often than everyone else. When you combine all that with an incredible eye and an incredible training ethic, it comes down to the best player in the world.
Look at the Test series in England this year. He went over there with a poor record, people were saying he couldn't make runs in those conditions, and all he wanted to do was prove everyone wrong. He finished up as the leading run-scorer by more than 200 runs.
I actually had the pleasure of interviewing him for cricket.com.au before that ODI series I was talking about, and he was really open, really happy to chat. I think it helped people see a different side of him – the personal side. We probably see the angry guy on the field yelling and doing all sorts of random carry-on, but underneath is a guy who's really focused, and a guy who is really normal. Everyone has the white-line fever which you see on TV, but you don't really get to see that personal side of people.
It's going to be really interesting watching him lead India out here this summer. They've never won a Test series here so that's huge motivation for them, and if you look at the way he's led that Indian team, he’s bred them to be winners, and bred them to be expecting to win. That's not always easy do, particularly with a team that hasn't had a lot of Test success away from home. But if you watch the way they play overseas, they expect to win. They expect to perform well and they're confident when they walk out. His leadership has bred that confidence throughout the squad – they all walk out a couple of inches taller because of the way he’s been playing and the way he's been leading. That's a very powerful thing to have as a captain, and something we’ve got to be wary of when he does come over.