Virat Kohli today stands head and shoulders above his contemporaries in world cricket. The Indian captain without a shadow of a doubt is the best all-format batsman in the world. Kohli debuted for Team India way back in 2009 when Gary Kirsten was the head coach of the side. As soon as Kirsten saw Kohli, he knew he was cut above rest that was gifted with immense talent.
However, the young Virat Kohli had a few drawbacks as well that Gary Kirsten helped him iron out to become the best version of himself. Kirsten stated that with Kohli it was all about making him consistent as a player that knew his strengths and weaknesses.
“Our relationship was formulated around him as a young player coming in, and me trying to say to him that he has a long way to go and to build in some consistent behaviours into the way he played this game,” Kirsten said on The RK show on Youtube.
Virat Kohli was not operating in the best version – Gary Kirsten
The World Cup-winning coach admitted he had several discussions with Kohli and always talked about how he could improve as a player. He encouraged Kohli to focus on hitting the ball down the ground more often. Early on in his career Kohli would have a rush of blood and failed to capitalise his starts which were frustrating. Kirsten pointed out that Kohli worked on every aspect of his game and took his batting to another level.
He said, “When I met Virat first up, he had great abilities and talent and he was a young guy. But I kind of knew straight away that he wasn’t operating in the best version of himself. So we had a number of discussions”.
“I’ll never forget one when we were playing an ODI series against Sri Lanka, and he was batting beautifully and he was on 30-odd not out. He then decided that he would try and hit the bowler over long-on’s head for six. And he got holed out”.
“I just said to him, ‘If you’re going to take your cricket to the next level, you need to hit that ball down the ground for one. You know you can hit a lot of balls up the ground, but there’s a lot of risks attached to that.’ I think he took that on board, he got a hundred in the next one-day in Kolkata”, the former Indian coach concluded.
Virat Kohli is currently ranked number 1 and 2 batsmen in the ICC rankings for ODIs and Tests respectively. The 31-year-old is also the only player on average over 50 in all three formats. In 2018, achieved a rare feat as he clean swept all major ICC awards becoming one the first player to do so.