London: Virat Kohli's much-hyped maiden county stint for Surrey had to be called off due to a neck injury after the Indian Premier League (IPL), but how much has the rest helped the Indian captain will only be discovered after the end of the Test series, said former England captain Alec Stewart.
Interestingly, Stewart, who is the Director of Cricket for Surrey County, had played a pivotal role in getting Kohli to sign his maiden county contract, where he was supposed to play three four-day games during the months of May and June.
However a neck injury in IPL and prescribed rest meant that Kohli didn't play for Surrey as he wanted to remain fresh for the gruelling two-and-half month UK tour that has five Test matches.
"Virat has played only a limited number of (Test) matches in England and his record is nowhere near the high quality he has achieved everywhere else around the world. So only he can answer (if rest helped him more) and we will know at the end of this series," Stewart told PTI when asked if skipping the county stint would help him during Tests or not.
Stewart believes that had Kohli been fit, his stimt would have proved to be mutually benefical for both parties.
"In my conversation with him (Kohli), we told him that we very much wanted him at Surrey for that month (May), and he told us he wanted to be here. It would have helped Surrey and it would have definitely helped Virat as well. But circumstances around that neck injury meant that he had pull out at the last moment," said Stewart.
While Kohli will only get one four-day game as a warm-up before the Test match, Stewart feels that playing limited-overs matches will be of some help though.
"(But) He has had the white-ball internationals to get ready for the Test series. When you have the quality of Virat, you adjust accordingly and I expect him to have a big impact on the Test series. His record here cannot get worse, it can only improve and world-class players find a way of succeeding in tough conditions."
In jest, Stewart said that he is lucky that he doesn't have to buy a ticket to watch Virat bat.
"As much as people will be scrutinising his record leading into this Test series, I expect him to succeed. I am lucky enough come watch cricket and not buy a ticket. But I would gladly pay to watch Virat bat," he added.
Stewart is also hopeful that India will perform better this time as likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma have all played county in the past two seasons, which will keep them in good stead.
"The likes of Pujara, Ashwin and Ishant have played in England before but to play more recently in the county circuit, in preparation for the Test series, it can only get better for India. The more you get used to conditions and different playing environments, the better it is going to be as an international cricketer. So, it will definitely help India that important members of their Test side have played here," Stewart said.
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