Australian legend Ricky Ponting has said he was "shocked" by Virat Kohli's decision to quit Test captaincy. Kohli announced the decision after team India lost their Test series in South Africa 2-1 and after seven years at the helm.
Kohli is statistically India Test team's most successful captain in history. Kohli had led the team for 68 matches, of which he won 40.
Earlier in September, the 33-year-old gave up his Twenty20 captaincy. Then later in December, he was replaced as the One-Day International (ODI) captain. Opener Rohit Sharma replaced him in all formats.
What was said
Ponting praised Kohli for his leadership skills, pointing the fact that under this leadership, team Indi had won more Test wins abroad than ever before.
“Yes, it did actually (surprise me)…I was shocked… Probably the main reason why, is I had a chat and good catch-up with Virat during the first part of the IPL (2021) before it got postponed," Ponting said in the first episode of The ICC Review.
“He was talking then about stepping away (from captaincy) from white-ball cricket and how passionate he was to continue on to be Test match captain. He just loved and cherished that job and that post so much. When I heard it, I was really, really surprised."
Ponting was also a former captain, he said he could relate to the decision and Kohli must have weighed in several factors before making the decision.
“There is potentially a shelf-life for international cricket captains and even coaches. Virat’s been there for close to seven years now," Ponting said. "If there’s a country in the world that’s the most difficult to captain, it’s probably India because of just how popular the game is and how much every single Indian loves to see the fortunes of the team.
“He is 33 years of age now and he will want to continue playing for a few more years I am sure and have a crack at breaking some records that he is not far off breaking. Maybe if he does that as a batter and without the extra responsibility of captaincy, it might make it a bit easier for him."
Kohli's successful leadership
Team India lost only five of the 24 Test series under Kohli's captaincy. Team India also did not lose any series at home with Kohli as its captain. They only lost two out of 31 matches. Ponting said team India was more fearsome under Kohli than team Australia was under himself.
“It was more of a staggering achievement for India than it was for us," he claimed. "When I took over, I took over a side that had dominated world cricket for a long time. If you think about India before Virat, it was about winning a lot of games at home and not winning quite as many overseas. The thing that improved most was India winning a few more games overseas…"
“There was a real focus placed on Test cricket by BCCI when Virat took over, and I think a lot of it has come from him as well to focus more on Test cricket and winning more games home and away."