Shane Warne has named two Indian players – Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli – on his 11-player list of the most accomplished batsmen since Sir Don Bradman. However, the spin legend found difficulty in picking one among Kohli and Steve Smith and ended up putting the duo at the joint 10th position.
Widely regarded as one of Australia’s greatest match-winners since the days of Allan Border, Shane Warne is also known for his strong cricketing acumen and ability to foresee the future of the young talents. He was the skipper and mentor of Rajasthan Royals when the franchise went on to win the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League. So, from the experience of having played, watched and mentored numerous cricketers, Warne has picked his best batsmen XI since Bradman.
The legend of leg-spin decided to pick two Indians – Tendulkar at the third position on the list and picked West Indian legends, Vivian Richards and Brian Lara, as the first and second respectively. Warne has always been an unabashed admirer of the master blaster’s batting technique, who took him to cleaners in the 1989 Sharjah Cup that Warne later admitted, had given him nightmares.
For the next three positions, Warney has picked his compatriots Greg Chappell, Ricky Ponting, and Allan Border and decided to go with South Africans Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers at seven and nine respectively. Surprisingly, the Victorian pacer has only picked a single batsman from their Ashes rivals and the honour went to legendary English opener Graham Gooch, who was sandwiched between Kallis and de Villiers.
After his brilliant unbeaten double century on Day 3 at the WACA, Steve Smith has now notched 22 tons, and almost rested the topic of who is the best Test batsman in the current generation. While some pundits have also been awed by Kohli’s sublime run of form and picked him almost at the same level as of the Aussie opener. Warne seemed like finding himself in a similar shell as he named the duo at the joint best position, but he singled out Smith as the "best Test batsman" and the Indian skipper as the best "all-format batman".
"I don't assess greatness by stats, but rather by the way someone played the game, the way they influenced results and the impact they had on all of us. That's how we remember our heroes. To me a great batsman has to have made a hundred in three key countries: in England, against the Duke ball on seaming and swinging pitches; in Australia, on our fast-paced, bouncy tracks; and of course, in the dust bowls of India, on pitches that spin and spit."
"To me, Steve Smith is the best Test batsman in the world. Virat Kohli is the best
"The hole in Kohli’s CV on the Test match stage is in England and the pressure is on the fiery but very likeable Indian to carry over some double-ton magic from home soil to that country when his team tours next year.
"Look at him on pure numbers and since Bradman, Smith's the best. If Smith keeps this form up over 100 Test matches, he will leave the game as an absolute legend and one of the all-time greats. You'd have to think there will be a dip in performance at some stage, but considering his average since he notched his first century, at the Oval in August 2013 – it's a touch under 72 – maybe not."