'That's how you bowl to greats like Richards and Gavaskar': Jeff Thomson's plan for Australia to silence Virat Kohli

Feb 02, 2023 08:02 PM IST

Virat Kohli will be looking to get back to his best in Test cricket, as he has in the limited overs formats, when India face Australia in a much-anticipated series this month.

Virat Kohli seems to have managed to shake off poor form in white ball cricket and he will looking to do the same in the longest format when India face Australia in a four-Test series starting next week. Kohli scored his first T20I century during the 2022 Asia Cup last year, thus ending a drought of tons in international cricket that stretched on for more than three years. He then finished as the highest run scorer in the 2022 T20 World Cup, despite India getting knocked out in the semi-finals and then proceeded to smash three ODI centuries in four innings, the last of which was a whirlwind 166 not out against Sri Lanka last month.

Jeff Thomson has got the better of the likes of Viv Richards and Sunil Gavaskar in his day(Getty Images)
Jeff Thomson has got the better of the likes of Viv Richards and Sunil Gavaskar in his day(Getty Images)

However, sandwiched in between the first and second of these centuries were two Test matches in Bangladesh where Kohli only managed scores of 1, 19 not out, 24 and 1. He now has a chance to end his poor run in Tests as well when Australia visit, which was the format he had last scored a century in 2019 before going on the over three year long barren run. Australia great Jeff Thomson had got the better of the likes Viv Richards and Sunil Gavaskar in his day and stated that bowlers have to follow similar strategies regardless of whether they are bowling to a great batter or not. It is only that with the likes Kohli, they have to ensure that they don't bowl any lose deliveries to them.

"Well it is no different to anybody else. If you were to bowl to Virat, it's the same as anybody else. You try to tie him down, try and make him uncomfortable. Don't let him get easy runs, which is very hard against a batter that has all the shots. Make him take more risks than he has to. Get him out of his comfort zone," said Thomson on RevSportz.

"Easier said than done but good bowlers should be able to do more than the mugs that run around. You tie him down and hope he tries to do something silly. That's how you bowl to everybody. Whether it be Viv Richards, Greg Chappell or Sunny Gavaskar, don't give them easy runs because then they just knock you around. They just keep ticking away and before you know it they are up and away."

Thomson said that the battle is also a mental one as much as it is about skills. The 72-year-old, who is widely regarded as the fastest bowler of all time, said that the bowler has to accept that batters of Kohli's quality are bound to have a good day on pitches that aid batting but they have to still try and keep things difficult for them.

"You can't back off but you've got to use your head. It's your mental battle against him (Virat). The one who breaks first loses out. As much as he is strong, you have got to be stronger. Good players - both batters and bowlers work that out. They know what's going on and go to plan B or C and see what happens. Some days it doesn't work but as long as you know you tried your best, did not bowl a heap of garbage and made it easy for him, that's what you can do. On their day, good players on good wickets have to have fun," he added.

"Generally, if it is a good pitch, he is going to have a good time but don't make it easier for him. When you play international cricket you have to be tough. You've got to want to beat the best. I had to turn up against Viv Richards, everyone in the world would have been shaking but I wasn't scared. I was up for him. You know he is going to come at you so you know you have an opportunity. Some other batter like Gavaskar won't come after you and that makes my job a little harder," said Thomson, who took 200 wickets in 51 Tests and formed a lethal fast bowling duo with Dennis Lillee.

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