Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting recalls his reaction after Virat Kohli stepped down as India’s captain
Melbourne: Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting revealed being ‘really surprised’ on Virat Kohli stepping down as India’s Test captain. He added Kohli had mentioned to him about stepping away from white-ball captaincy during first half of IPL 2021.
A day after India lost the Test series to South Africa 2-1, Kohli announced he was quitting as the Test captain, bringing a seven-year reign to an end.
“Yes, it did actually (surprise me). Probably the main reason why I had a chat and good catch-up with Virat during the first part of the IPL (2021) before it got postponed. He was talking then about stepping away (from captaincy) from white-ball cricket and how passionate he was to continue on to be Test match captain,” said Ponting to former England pacer Isa Guha on first episode of ICC Review show.
“He just loved and cherished that job and that post so much. Obviously, the Indian Test team had achieved a lot under his leadership. When I heard it, I was really, really surprised. You only have to watch him on the field for an hour of the day’s play to realise how passionate he is about that job and the role, and how much he wants the team to win and how much he wants the best for Indian cricket,” added Ponting, who captained Australia in 77 Tests.
After overcoming the initial shock of Kohli resigning from Test captaincy, Ponting began to delve into reasons over the same, ranging from shelf life of captains to immense pressure from fans in India.
“I was shocked, but then I started thinking about other things, even my own time as captain. I have gone on record and said that I probably think I played a couple of years longer than I should have in hindsight. I think I might have been captain for a couple of years longer than I should have.
“So I think there is potentially a shelf-life for international cricket captains and even coaches. Virat’s been there for close to seven years now. If there’s a country in the world that’s the most difficult to captain, it’s probably India because of just how popular the game is and how much every single Indian loves to see the fortunes of the Indian cricket team, whether they are good or bad. You weigh all those things up.”
Ponting further praised Kohli’s efforts of making India win more in overseas Tests. Under Kohli, India won the Border-Gavaskar trophy in 2018 apart from leading 2-1 in England in 2021.
“When I took over, I took over a side that had dominated world cricket for a long time. If you think about India before Virat, it was about winning a lot of games at home and not winning quite as many overseas. The thing that improved the most was India winning a few more games overseas, and that’s something that he and all of the Indian cricket have to be really proud of.”
The 47-year-old signed off by saying there was a real focus on Test cricket when Kohli was the captain.
“The other thing is there was really was a real focus placed on Test cricket by the BCCI when Virat took over, and I think a lot of it has come from him as well – to focus more on Test cricket and winning more games home and away. Given his Test record as captain, he can walk away from the role very, very proud of what he has achieved.”