On Tuesday, former Australian skipper Michael Clarke rated Virat Kohli as a better one-day batsmen that current Australian skipper Steve Smith, reported PTI. However, Clarke said that the duo were on equal level as far as leadership qualities are concerned.
Asked who is a better batsman and leader among the two contemporary greats, Clarke said, “Virat is a better ODI batsman but just about that. Smith perhaps is better in the longer format. In terms of captaincy, both are equal and they are improving. At the moment, Virat is on top as his team is winning. But again, irrespective of the number of runs you score, what matters is whether your team is winning matches or not,” said Clarke.
Clarke was also asked whether this side, led by Smith, is the weakest to tour India, considering it did not even qualify for the Champions Trophy semi-final. Clarke cheekily said, “I am silly but I am not that silly to give you a front- page headline for tomorrow’s newspaper!”
However, on a serious note, he said, “Obviously, this is an opportunity for this Australian side to translate their potential into consistent performance. This team needs to back its talent as there’s enough talent in the squad.”
The Indian team has played an aggressive brand of cricket and Clarke did find certain similarities between the two sides led by Sourav Ganguly and Virat Kohli.
“I think there are similarities. Sourav Ganguly deserves a lot of credit for the environment he created. He never took a backseat. MS Dhoni, Anil Kumble and Kohli have all done it in their own ways. The current Indian team is led by an aggressive skipper who does not want to lose,” said Clarke.
However, Clarke added that the services of fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will be missed as they are recuperating from injuries. The incentive, according to the former skipper, should be a 4-1 win which could put Australia on top of the ICC ODI rankings.
“A carrot right there for Smith and the boys because if they win 4-1 then they become the No.1 side again. The support staff has to work out the way they wish to play. Whether they want to play an aggressive brand of cricket or wish to hold back and play the full quota of overs. We still have some way to go before the 2019 World Cup, but honestly we have not won as much as we would like,” said Clarke.
Most of the Australian players are part of the Indian Premier League which makes it easier for them to adapt to the conditions. “The experience of playing in India makes it all the more easier for the Aussies. India is like a second home for these guys as they have played in the IPL. They know the conditions and the opposition so there can’t be any excuse,” said Clarke.