Former England captain Alastair Cook has included India skipper Virat Kohli in his list of batsmen who came close to matching the genius of West Indies’ legend Brian Lara.
Cook, who announced his retirement in 2018, said he was awestruck by Lara’s dominance during a tour to West Indies with the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).
Recalling the 2004 tour game in which Lara smashed a quickfire hundred against the MCC, Cook said he had witnessed ‘another level of batsmanship’ when the Windies great scored a ton in just one session.
“I was part of an MCC team that played West Indies at Arundel in the first match of their 2004 tour,” Cook said during a Q/A session with The Sunday Times.
“We had a decent bowling attack – Simon Jones, Matthew Hoggard and Min Patel, all of whom were England players. Brian Lara scored a century between Lunch and Tea, which made me realise I was witnessing another level of batsmanship altogether. It was genius at work.”
Lara, who is the only batsman to score 400 in a Test innings, retired in April 2007 after scoring 11,953 runs in 131 Tests and 10,505 runs in 299 ODIs.
Apart from Lara and Kohli, the other players who found a spot in Cook’s list were Ricky Ponting (Australia), Jacques Kallis (South Africa) and Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka).
“The ones who came close to that when I was playing for England were Ponting, Kallis and Sangakkara,” Cook, who led England in 59 Tests, added.
According to the former England opener, Kohli finds a spot in the list of all-time greats because of his sheer ability to score runs freely across formats.
“Now you would have to put Virat Kohli in that group, especially for his ability to score so freely in all three formats,” Cook concluded.
Sir Alastair Cook was a stalwart of the Three Lions batting lineup, especially in Test cricket. In the longest format of the game, he managed 12,472 runs in 161 matches with 33 tons and 57 half-centuries. In his last Test against India at the Kennington Oval, he bowed out with a sparkling century.