Was just fantastic to see Virat Kohli taking Test cricket so seriously: Graeme Smith

Sports |  IANS  | Published : Sat, Aug 20, 2022, 03:53 PM

London, Aug 20 (IANS) Former South Africa skipper Graeme Smith applauded the attitude India had towards Test cricket when Virat Kohli was captain, saying it was fantastic to see him take the longest format of the game extremely seriously.

Kohli, who became full-time Test captain in 2015 after MS Dhoni announced his retirement from the format, led India to 40 wins out of 68 Tests as skipper while losing 17 and drawing 11 matches. He stepped down from Test captaincy as India lost 2-1 in South Africa in January, with a win percentage of 58.82 while registering memorable wins in overseas and home conditions.

"With Test cricket, it's just iconic nations or the big cricketing nations that are contributing to Test cricket at the moment. India led a (the) way in Test cricket under Virat Kohli. It was just fantastic; he took Test cricket so seriously in world cricket. They lead the way with that," said Smith on 'Sky Sports' during day three's action between England and South Africa at Lord's.

At the same time, Smith pointed out that only a small number of nations are contributing to Test match action in the world. "But as long as we've got competitive teams, you're not going to have 10, 11, 12, 13 or 14 competitive teams. You might only be down to five or six nations that play Test cricket at this level."

Smith, who is also the commissioner of South Africa's new upcoming T20 league, further explained why the new T20 league was needed from a financial perspective. "It's certainly going to be an investment into our game that South African cricket desperately needed."

"The pressures on nations like New Zealand, West Indies, South Africa to stay financially sustainable to keep up with England, India, and the world game to stay competitive is hugely important. I don't think world cricket can afford South Africa or any one of the top nations to start fading away."

To have all players from South Africa available for the inaugural edition of the new T20 league, the ODI series against Australia in January was forfeited, an implication of which is that they have lost out on 30 points in the World Cup Super League tally, risking their automatic qualification for ODI World Cup in India next year.

"For four weeks of an entire year, the priority will be the league. I feel that if we hadn't done this South African cricket could have probably lost eight to ten players to this UAE league. People also look at those three ODIs wrong."

"Yes, South Africa hasn't handled ODI cricket as well and it should never be in this position. But for South Africa to be in Australia out of their key part of the summer financially is a huge stress for them. It's like asking England not to play during your summer."

"The commitment that South African cricket made to go for the three Test matches is good for the game. It's something that won't happen often," concluded Smith.

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