When I started watching cricket, I considered myself lucky. For I believed lucky enough to be living in the age of Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting. I had this thinking in me that I have been lucky enough to live in the golden era of cricket. Primarily an Indian cricket fan, I was always in awe of the batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar. The straight drives were a treat to watch for every young fans at my age group then. That was years ago, while I watched gracefully the trinity of Sachin, Lara and Ponting hang up their careers. I never thought in the wildest of my fantasies that I would be able to witness batsmen of the same calibre again. Sachin Tendulkar was meant to be once in a generation player. So was the case of Ricky Ponting. But India and Australia have been lucky enough to get two incredibly talented batsmen of the game – Virat Kohli and Steve Smith. When these two started their careers, they had the company of Kane Williamson and Joe Root to form the Fab 4. The latter two gentlemen are still there on the circuit and keeping up with the competencies of cricket. Williamson and Root are good players with a lot of potential with them. But that’s the difference between good players and great players. Kohli and Smith have been great for international cricket as a whole, keeping their competitors at check.
Steve Smith and Virat Kohli is pretty much like we have Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in football. The cricket aficionados are divided in their thoughts at who is better than the other. Virat Kohli is much more soothing to the eyes, but Smith has been a run machine and more prolific than Kohli in cricket’s original format. Steve Smith almost has two shots for a ball, very few can boast of that instinct. Not even Virat Kohli can do that. Smith is the most arrogant batsman due to the fact that he teases the bowler’s IQ. He doesn’t allow the bowler to settle through. He shuffles across from left, to the right and confuses the bowler. No one in my memory does that better than Steve Smith. In spite of all these, he keeps his head still and plays the ball at the last possible second. Cricket pundits always reckon playing the ball late is the hallmark of a great batsman. Its just plain common sense that Smith possesses the skill. Steve Smith has always been the guy in the longest format, but his current form is legendary. He is the sole pillar that is holding the Australian batting attack together. When he was out of the game last year, Kohli was up there taking the no.1 position in Test rankings. But then when master made the comeback in 2019, it was just a matter of a few test matches to get Smith back at the helm. Kohli is not too far behind as well. Smith being the batting mainstay in longer format of the game, Virat Kohli bosses the other two formats and is a tough competitor to Smith in Tests. There is just a slight variation between Kohli and Smith in Tests. The variation is very much minimal in favour of Smith. We talked about Smith playing the ball late and having two shots ready before a ball being bowled. Kohli is someone who has one shot for the ball, but boy he does the execute the shot to perfection. Kohli is more so about the perfection he has attained over the years, his work ethic and determination has been a testimony to the fact of the matter.
Steve Smith – Performances by Year
Virat Kohli – Performances by Year
Getting back to the Steve Smith story, it has been a roller coaster ride so far from the New South Wales player. When he started as a leg spinner in 2010, none could have predicted he would go on to be tagged as the “Modern Day Bradman”. This is a transformation for the record books, because I’ve not seen any one single cricketer evolve himself to be the ultimate one in the ultimate form of cricket. Smith time and again keeps questioning the batting manuals of cricket. He has started a new chapter in cricket. The technique does count a lot in cricket, but here is someone who has walked on top of these batting manuals with arrogance. The fact of the matter is Smith is at a touch above than Virat Kohli in tests and Kohli bossess over Smith by a reasonable margin across all formats. For the cricket aficionado, one could just possibly watch both these gentlemen batsman of the game as they enthrall and annihilate the opposition. I’ve not seen more prolific batsman for Australia than Steve Smith since Ricky Ponting bid adieu. I’ve also not seen a better runs scorer for India than Virat Kohli since Sachin Tendulkar quit the game. These two keep the format going ahead in its truest form.
I wish the Virat Kohli and Steve Smith tug-of-war goes on eternally. Test cricket needs these two talisman of the game to keep this format alive.