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Smith hails 'superstar' Kohli for promoting Test cricket

2nd November 2018
South African cricket legend Graeme Smith heaped praise Indian captain Virat Kohli saying he can keep Test cricket alive during the annual lecture at Jagmohan Dalmiya Annual Conclave (Chapter II) organised by Cricket Association of Bengal at Eden Gardens today.
Smith said that Indian skipper is a 'superstar' who can keep Test cricket relevant today by promoting it as an icon of the game and expressed his joy over the opportunity to be present at the second edition of the Conclave.
"The world cricket is lacking huge amount of superstars. May be one or two in England. I think Virat is that guy. As long as Virat keeps promoting Test criket as an icon and superstar, we all have the chance to keep the game relevant," he said in the Annual lecture of this year's Conclave that coincided with 25 years of installing the floodlights at Eden Gardens.
"The fact that he loves Test cricket and puts in performances, it keeps Test cricket relevant in a country that loves the game with IPL and other T20s. It's huge for the game," he added.
About India's recent overseas records in England and South Africa the former Proteas skipper said, "It was a big year for Indian cricket. They will be disappointed that they have not won a Test series in South Africa and England. Certainly the ability is there. I think they can challenge teams in their own conditions."
India suffered a 1-4 drubbing in England while earlier this year they lost 1-2 in South Africa.
About India's upcoming tour in Australia he said, "If the selection panel gets the right combination in place and everyone plays well, I expect India to be very successful in Australia. They have the talent and ability to do well in Australia."
The 37-year-old South African also shared his thoughts about the much talked T20 v Test cricket debate and the idea of tweaking Test cricket format to keep it relevant.
"The crowd, the excitement that T20 brings to the game is huge. T20 is such a huge asset to the game financially. There's a big debate on how to balance both the formats. Everyone trying to come up with an idea to keep Test cricket relevant," he said.
The South African added: "For me, it's quite simple. Unfortunately in Test cricket, we have lost a few dynamic teams. There are teams who are going through transformation. I believe if world cricket is competitive all formats will work."
"Test cricket is the ultimate test of your ability and skill and your physical state. The challenge is to get competitive teams outside the top three. Then if we add the some of the nuances people will start take seriously."
He also praised Indian pace attack saying: "India's seam attack is one of the best that we have seen. Not just one, but the whole attack is outstanding. You now have young seamers who can hurt the opposition."
Smith criticised the quality of Kookaburra balls saying in particular it is letting people down.
"It's a ball that softens and does not swing for a long period of time. I think Test cricket cannot afford to have boring draws.
"It needs the ball to spin, it needs the ball to swing and movement in the air. It needs competition between the bat and the ball so as to keep Test cricket stay relevant," he added.
Smith also shared anecdotes from his playing career and talked about the current situation of South African cricket also.

Rio Dutta