Having made his international debut in 2008, Virat Kohli has moved up the charts in leaps and bounds to become one of the world’s leading batsmen. For Gary Kirsten, India’s coach when Kohli started out with the national team, it was always a question of when and not if when it came to Kohli achieving great things.
Kirsten, who has been roped in as batting coach by Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, said: “It is great to be working with Virat again because he started when I was the coach. We had a lot of conversations early in his career about how he needs to set up his game. We knew he was going to be a great player, it was just a question of when he was going to get there. How he needed to play to be able to achieve the consistency in his game.”
“A lot of those conversations have in many ways given him some of the thinking around how he needs to build his game. That has been fun. To come back and start working with him again, to see how he is going, we are just kind of building that relationship again. I am really enjoying it,” said Kirsten.
Kohli, the No.1-ranked ODI batsman in the ICC Player Rankings – and No.2 in Tests – currently sits at the top of the run-scoring chart in the IPL this season.
“Any guy with half a cricket eye would have known that he was going to be a great player. His hunger for runs, his ball-striking ability – we are talking 2008; he hit the ball to all parts of the ground, he had natural power,” pointed out Kirsten.
“He had all the makings of a great player in terms of ball-striking ability and talent. And then, the determination to go with it. The hunger to be great. It was all there. That’s one of the easier recruitments you could make, that was not going to be difficult to work out. I wouldn’t be only one who would have seen that, I think everyone would have seen that.”
Since becoming the full-time India captain across formats, Kohli has stacked up remarkable numbers. Most recently, in 2017, he scored 1464 ODI runs at 76.84 and 1059 Test runs at 75.64.
With India embarking on tough away tours of England and Australia later this year, Kohli’s form is going to be crucial.
“We know what he is now and what he looks like. It has been an amazing natural progression. Importantly for him now, as he moves into this next phase – he has gone from the prodigious talent to the high performer. The challenge now is to maintain that for a long period of time, to grow his leadership base, and he is doing that because I think it is an ongoing process,” Kirsten said.
“He seems to be in a space where he is really willing to take on the learning that needs to be taken, like we all need to in whatever phase we are in our lives. Take the learning on board to get even better.”