Virat Kohli is proving his status as one of the all-time greats: Sir Viv Richards -

Virat Kohli is proving his status as one of the all-time greats: Sir Viv Richards

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Sir Viv Richards

I have been thoroughly enjoying the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 and I am highly impressed with some of the performances on show.

As a batter, it has been magnificent to see and I’m not sure fans around the world could have asked for anything better.

Some of the pitches have been really good for run-scoring and we have seen so many high-class performances. There have been the record-breaking centuries from Aiden Markram and Glenn Maxwell, Quinton de Kock has had an amazing tournament and the young man Rachin Ravindra looks an exceptional talent.

There have been a whole host of talented individuals on show but to top them all, you cannot look past Virat Kohli. I am a huge fan of Virat, I have been for a long time, and he continues to show why he has to go down as one of the all-time greats, right up there with the likes of the great Sachin

Virat will have been through some tough times before this World Cup and some folks were even brave enough to call for his head.

Credit must be given to the backroom staff and everyone who backed him. So much was said about his form but he is back on top of his game. It is phenomenal to see an individual who has had his low points bouncing back and playing like this. They say form is temporary – and he has certainly proven that class is permanent. I am so happy for him, he looks so focused and he is a credit to the game of cricket.

Virat is a go-getter and what sets him apart is his mental strength. He will have backed himself throughout, and on the occasions in the past in which I have chatted with him and we have discussed things, his mental strength has always been evident. That has been key to pushing him through to how he is playing now. Very few players, or people, are built like that.

Many people have made comparisons between the two of us over the years, partly because of our shared intensity on the field. I love Virat’s enthusiasm – even if he is fielding at long-on or long-off, when one of his bowlers hits the pad, he is appealing. He is always in the game and I like individuals like that.

Shubman Gill is another who bats with style and he is just one among a whole host of players who have all the big shots. I am just hoping no one forgets there was a guy without a helmet by the name of Vivian Richards who went out and played like that sometimes! Some of the shots played today are those I like to think I had in my armoury, maybe with the exception of the reverse sweep, but that would have been unwise without the lid on. I’d like to think my scoring rate matches up with the guys playing today, though the game has moved on massively – as a fan, I am delighted with where the game is at currently.

In terms of this year’s competition, India have a mindset that they can go all the way playing like this. That absolutely should be their mindset and would be mine if I was in that dressing room – let’s go out with all guns blazing. That approach has worked so far and if that changes, things may go astray.

I believe they can go all the way unbeaten, which is really something to strive for. There may be some fears of ‘we have played so well so far, there may be a bad game around the corner in the semi-final’. They have to try and nullify those and banish any negative thoughts.

Pakistan could yet join them in the knockout stages but I can’t help thinking that with the talent they have, they should have already sealed their spot. I have seen up close in recent years through my coaching work [Pakistan Super League] how much ability exists in that squad but they have made life hard for themselves – I think they are a more talented squad than their place in the table would suggest. They can beat the very best on their day so there may be some punches left in that team.

One of the highlights of this World Cup, for me, has been watching Afghanistan. If they get a score of over 250, the bowling class they have means they are in the game all the time. Although they were denied by an amazing Glenn Maxwell innings against Australia, they have made a real statement in recent weeks and their performances will be inspirational for those who play the game in Afghanistan.

By contrast, it is a shame for the fans in the West Indies that they have not had the opportunity to see their team in action. I am hoping it acts as a wake-up call as it is a competition which means so much to us. The two World Cups we won in 1975 and 1979 remain the highlights of my career.

To make our mark on the global stage and lift the trophy was an incredible feeling. I hope it serves as a reminder to the guys who are playing today and acts as inspiration for them to reach that level.

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