Mumbai: Former Australia pacer Geoff Lawson has heaped praise on in-form Indian Test captain Virat Kohli, saying the star batsman is "arguably the number one batsman in the world".
"Kohli at the moment, is arguably the number one batsman in the world. He is in the form of his life. I was impressed with him when I saw him on the first tour to Australia (in 2011-12)," Lawson told reporters in Mumbai on Saturday.
"He was (among) the few Indian batsmen who took on the challenge of playing on the bouncy Australian wickets," said the former Australia fast bowler, who is on a short coaching stint at the Payyade Sports Club in suburban Kandivili.
Lawson, who took 180 wickets in 46 Tests and 88 in 79 ODIs in a career spanning nine years between 1980 and 1989, was referring to Kohli topping the batting averages with 300 runs in the disastrous 0-4 whitewash under Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the 2011-12 season.
"You can see in his face, he took it on as a personal challenge to be good on those pitches. While the other batsmen, including (Sachin) Tendulkar, were sort of failing around him, Kohli really relished something different. For him it is not good just playing in India, you need to (be) good all over the world," Lawson added.
Kohli, who has been in tremendous form in the T20 format of the game that includes the ongoing IPL, notched the only century by an Indian in the series — in the Adelaide Test.
According to Lawson, since that first visit Down Under Kohli has got better and better.
"I wouldn't like to be bowling to him in in the IPL. It is difficult to get him out and if you do so, you have to get out AB de Villiers and Shane Watson (who both bat in the top order for RCB) as well," quipped Lawson.
Mumbai pacer Shardul Thakur, who has been picked for India's upcoming four-Test series in the West Indies, was felicitated by Lawson in the presence of Mumbai Cricket Association's (MCA) joint secretary, PV Shetty.
Lawson also welcomed the appointment of Sanjay Bangar as the head coach, albeit on a temporary basis, for the Zimbabwe tour.
"When I coached in the IPL for (the defunct) Kochi Tuskers, Sanjay was my assistant. He was very good. It would be interesting to see if Sanjay got the job.
"He is a reliable guy and players trust him. Sanjay was doing the job of assistant (for India). They have given him the job for the (Zimbabwe) tour and I think he could be a good choice for that (head coach)," Lawson said.
Asked whether he would be keen to take up the job, Lawson said currently he had a coaching stint in Australia, but coaching the Indian team would be "fascinating".
"I have a job in New South Wales. I am the assistant coach with NSW and Sydney Sixers (in Australia's Big Bash League). You would never say no, but I have got a pretty good job, as it is, and I have to look at a whole lot of things.
"It would be interesting to do for a while, having coached Pakistan. To do it in another culture, that will be fascinating, I am very interested in how different cultures work," he said.
"I really enjoyed my time with Pakistan and it would be interesting, even fascinating, to coach India. I don't know and probably India need a local coach while Pakistan needed an overseas coach," he added.
Asked were things difficult for bowlers now, especially in T20, Lawson said bowlers are getting a bad deal.
"T20 has become a four (and) six-hitting contest, it's not cricket any more, its baseball. We need to change something, to get back the game. I think if T20 goes as the way it is, people will get bored with fours and sixes.
"Every rule you make is hard for bowlers and easier for batsmen and I don't understand that. The joy and beauty in cricket is the balance between bat and ball. Even in T20, the balls being used hardly swing at all. They may swing for one or two overs and then they go absolutely straight.
"And the bats they are using are getting bigger and bigger. And the batmen, they are not becoming better, they are just using better equipment," he added.
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Updated Date: May 28, 2016 18:18:47 IST