Steve Smith vs Virat Kohli: Brett Lee picks Aussie batsman over Indian skipper; here’s what stats say

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Updated: May 26, 2020 8:55 PM

Lee also pointed out that there are not too many qualities that separate these modern-day greats and he might very well pick Kohli as the best batsman the following day.

Lee credited Smith for turning it around for the Australia team after returning from a difficult phase when he was banned (File Image)

Former Australian pacer Brett Lee has made his opinion known in the “Steve Smith versus Virat Kohli” debate and who among the two is the better batsman going around in international cricket today. On an Instagram live session, which has become a mainstay for cricket fans and cricketers who are locked up due to the Coronavirus outbreak, he told commentator and former Zimbabwean pacer – Mpumelelo “Pommie” Mbangwa, that his pick would be Smith, and not Kohli.

Lee credited Smith for turning it around for the Australia team after returning from a difficult phase when he was banned along with his teammates Cameron Bancroft and, his then deputy, David Warner. Lee said Smith has returned from the hiatus with a bang, regained form, and amassed runs, especially in the Ashes last year which marked his comeback.

“At the moment, I would pick Smith over Kohli because of what he has been through and what he has had to overcome. Steve Smith has been through a lot in the last couple of years, he has seen a rise in the way he played in the last 12 months, he is so fidgety, sometimes you are like ‘just relax mate’,” Lee said to Mbangwa on the Instagram live session.

However, Lee also pointed out that there are not too many qualities that separate these modern-day greats and he might very well pick Kohli as the best batsman the following day. “I might go with Kohli tomorrow as it depends on the mood. They are two great players and hard to split,” Lee added in his remarks while comparing the greatness of Smith with Kohli.

Lee then went on to liken Smith’s records with the phenomenal numbers of Sir Don Bradman. “I think Smith can be as good as Don Bradman, there have been talks of him becoming just like Bradman looking at the numbers,” said Lee as he praised Smith’s consistency over the last few years.

Analysing the technical correctness of these batsmen, Lee — the fast bowler who at his peak tested the defence of every batsman of his era — said that there are abundance of qualities in the techniques of the two men. Lee also called their technique ‘genuine’. Buttressing his point of view on Kohli’s batting technique, Lee said Virat’s technique is sound and his run-scoring is based on ‘hitting shots through the V’. He also praised Virat Kohli’s attitude, as Pommie Mbangwa observed that in his early days in Tests he was susceptible to getting caught behind the wicket, but he has worked hard to correct it to such an extent that it is hard for bowlers to get him out in that manner now.

Virat Kohli best batsman across formats, comparison with Babar Azam ‘not ideal’

Hundreds, average and milestones in test career

In 86 Test matches, Virat Kohli has accumulated 7,240 runs at an average of 53.62 in 145 innings with 27 hundred and 22 fifties; while Steve Smith has featured in 73 matches amassing 7,227 runs in 131 innings at an astounding average of 62.84 with the help of 26 centuries and 29 half-centuries.

Steve Smith has survived 13,068 balls in Test cricket in 131 innings, while Kohli has faced 12,252 balls in his Test career. The fact that both these batsmen play at an identical position — No. 4 — makes the column of total balls faced a potentially valid argument.

Kohli against ‘SENA’ teams – South Africa, England, New Zealand, Australia (Overseas)

Virat has played 5 Test matches in South Africa and has batted in all 10 innings scoring 558 runs at an average of 55.8 with 2 hundreds and 2 fifties and a highest score of 153.

In the 10 Test matches, he has played in England, he could manage to score only 727 runs at an abysmal average of 36.35. He turned it around remarkably on the last tour of England but the abject failure in 2014 series has dented his numbers terribly.

New Zealand has not been a happy tour for Kohli either. In the 8 innings he has played against the Kiwis in their backyard, Kohli has managed to add only 252 runs to his kitty at an average less than his average in England — 36. His only hundred in the country was 105 in the second innings of Wellington Test in 2014 when India was playing to salvage some pride after a Brendon McCullum masterclass.

But, Australia has been the country where Kohli has dominated the proceedings since his early Test days. He had scored his maiden Test century in Adelaide in 2011 and has never looked back since. In the 23 innings he has played Down Under, Kohli has plundered runs off the Aussie bowling and amassed 1,274 runs at an average of 55.39. His highest score in the country stands at 169. He has toured Australia thrice and never done too badly.

Rohit Sharma vs Virat Kohli debate: Here’s what the numbers reveal

Smith against India, South Africa, England, New Zealand (Overseas)

Smith has played 6 Test matches in India and has batted in 12 innings, scoring 660 runs at a phenomenal average of 60. He has three hundreds and 1 fifty and a highest score of 178 (not out) against his name in India.

In South Africa, Smith has played 6 Test matches and has batted in 11 innings, adding 411 runs to his tally with an average of 41.1 with 1 century and two half-centuries.

It seems Steve Smith, the batsman, has always reserved his best for England. In 30 innings he has played against Aussies’ arch-rivals in the all-important Ashes series, Smith has always been at his peak. He has smashed 6 centuries and 7 half-centuries on his way to accumulating as many as 1,727 runs at an average of 59.55 runs.

In the Ashes 2019, when he was making a comeback into the Australian side after serving a ban, he stood firm between the English side and the Ashes trophy. In the 7 innings of 4 Test matches he played, he piled up 774 runs at an average of 110.57 with the help of 3 centuries and 3 half-centuries. All of the three centuries were big tons made in precarious situations where his failure would have made life difficult for Australia.

In New Zealand, Smith has batted in only 3 Test innings and is yet to be dismissed at a score less than 50. He has 1 hundred and 2 fifties in three innings in New Zealand, stockpiling 262 runs at an average of 131 against the Blackcaps.

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