MELBOURNE: With his technique and temperament, Virat Kohli would have stood up to Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding had he played in the late 70s and 80s, believes former Australia captain Kim Hughes.
The general standard of the test match stick, however, has “deteriorated at present”, according to the former skipper.
Hughes, who played 70 Tests and also captained Australia during a critical phase, was seen as a very stylish hitter in the late 70s to mid 80s, before quickly fading after a drop in form.

“Virat Kohli would be a world-class player in any era because he’s tough, has fantastic technique and a lot of guts. He would do well in any era,” Hughes, 68, told PTI in an interview.
For Hughes, there is no one bigger and better than Sir Vivian Richards, but Kohli would just come in the next installment.
“Kohli would have been just as successful against the West Indies side of the 70s and 80s. Maybe he’s not in Viv’s class, but suddenly in the upper echelon.
“Viv was above everyone else, but Virat is definitely in the league of Greg Chappell, Allan Border and Javed Miandad, the best of my era,” said the man, who had more than 4,000 tests.

Hughes, who has nine hundred tests spaced 22 half centuries apart, reckons having an average of 50 and above isn’t a big deal these days. But, at the time, it was kind of a novelty because of the type of pace attack of the top teams.
“Only the great players of my era averaged 50, and there were only half a dozen at most,” said Hughes, whose average was around 38, although there were few who had the style and flair like him.
He gave a technical example.
“In the late ’70s and mid-’80s, Viv was the only batsman who could hit a pacer for six on extra coverage. And now even my nine-year-old grandson could hit a six.
“No team now has four great fast bowlers like the West Indies of yore and in our time only Viv, Greg (Chappell), AB (Border) and Javed Miandad were four great players. They averaged over 50” , he added.

“The players now, I’m sorry, are out of league with Viv, Greg, Javed and Allan.”
Reason for test match stick decline
Hughes believes that T20 cricket is one of the main reasons current batters are facing technical issues.
“T20 overs cricket has caused many batters to deteriorate in technique when stepping on the front foot.
“Most of the Test batsmen of that era wouldn’t know what the back foot was like. Due to the limited number of crickets, they just rushed on the front foot and were sorted out by good bowlers,” he said. he explains.

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Hughes believes that among the younger generation of hitters, Cameron Green has a solid back foot game and, with his all-around skills, would be the “best all-rounder” in the days to come.
Cricket Australia and its ‘deplorable’ ways
Hughes isn’t exactly a big fan of Cricket Australia and how it has handled some of the recent controversies.
He cited three examples – the Sandpaper Door, David Warner’s Future Captaincy Problem, and Justin Langer’s Exit Episode.
“I think the way Cricket Australia handled the sandpaper incident was poor. Former CEO James Sutherland didn’t speak about it for three days.
“He should have gotten on the plane instantly and gone to South Africa and told the cricket manager and the captain that ‘no one says anything until I get there’.”
If the sandpaper door was bad, the way Langer had to leave as Australia’s head coach was worse.
“Langer’s situation was handled in an absolutely deplorable way. After beating England, then deciding to dither and then having the audacity to offer him a six-month contract rather than asking him to go to the World Cup ( last edition in the UAE). I think they treated Justin Langer disgracefully,” he looked rather angry.
He also thinks CA’s stance of seeing Warner as a potential captain smacks of double standards.
“They also handled the David Warner situation very badly and he hasn’t been in the newspaper articles and the media regarding the sandpaper and other people involved as well.
“Yeah, it’s not right and David took it on the chin. Smith was in charge as captain. He’s eligible now, and David isn’t.”
Don’t see Cummins playing T20s after this edition
Playing three formats with league cricket is not possible these days, and therefore, pat cummins is unlikely to play more T20I after this World Cup, Hughes said.
“After this T20 World Cup, I think Pat won’t be playing too many T20Is for Australia. He doesn’t need to play that and he needs a break.
“He would play the odd game over 50 and some youngsters are coming in so he would have to let them play and he would focus on testing especially in England,” he said.
Alcohol addiction and becoming a mental health coach
The past two years have been difficult for Hughes, who experienced a downward spiral during the first wave of COVID, when he drowned in alcohol and needed counseling and rehabilitation.
“It just happened,” he paused for a moment and said.
“COVID happened and there was no corporate talk, but that’s no excuse. It suddenly pops up and you don’t realize it. Drinking or being around alcohol was part and parcel of my life, as is the case with many Australian men.
“We don’t talk about stuff,” said the man, whose cover readers were as fashionable as his curly blonde hair.
For Hughes, more than his 9 hundreds and best test of 213, the greatest “century” is being alcohol-free for 101 weeks.
“Yes, today is 101 weeks without drinking alcohol. I was on the wrong track and went to rehab on the advice of my son, and this is the greatest century I have ever marked 101 weeks, and I haven’t missed a drink,” he laughs.
“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I can talk to people about ways to overcome alcohol or drug addiction, gambling. I work a lot on mental well-being and mental health. I’m mental health coach.
The most positive side of COVID is that her three sons and her daughter have given birth to five grandchildren in the last 20 months.
“COVID has proven to be productive for the Hughes team,” he laughed.
And how is he doing financially?
“Well, I’m fine, I’m not a millionaire, but I live in the best place in the world and that’s Australia,” he signed off.



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