Ponting ‘really surprised’ with Virat Kohli relinquishing Test captaincy, says he can be proud of what he has achieved

Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting has said that he is really surprised with Virat Kohli deciding to leave Test captaincy.

Earlier this month, Kohli stood down as India’s Test skipper a day after the country suffered a 1-2 series defeat against South Africa in the three-match series. Last year, the 33-year-old had also stepped down as T20I captain and then he was removed as the ODI leader after the selectors wanted one leader for white-ball formats.

“Yes, it did actually (surprise me). Probably the main reason why is because I had a chat and good catch-up with Virat during the first part of the IPL (2021) before it got postponed. 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. Obviously, the Indian Test team had achieved a lot under his leadership. When I heard it, I was really, really surprised,” the official website of ICC quoted Ponting as saying.

“You only have to watch him on the field for an hour of the day’s play to realize how passionate he is about that job and the role, and how much he wants the team to win and how much he wants the best for Indian cricket. I was shocked, but then I started thinking about other things, even my own time as captain. I have gone on record and said that I probably think I played a couple of years longer than I should have in hindsight. I think I might have been captain for a couple of years longer than I should have,” he added.

No other Indian skipper has captained India in more Tests (68) or won more matches (40) than Virat Kohli. India lost just five of the 24 series under his captaincy.

Away from home, Kohli’s India won 16 out of 36 matches, with an impressive win percentage of 44.44, the highest for an Indian or Asian captain who has led their team in at least 10 matches.

“So I think there is potentially a shelf-life for international cricket captains and even coaches. Virat’s been there for close to seven years now. 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 Indian cricket team, whether they are good or bad. You weigh all those things up,” said Ponting.

“It was more of a staggering achievement for India than it was for us,” said Ponting. “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 the most was India winning a few more games overseas, and that’s something that he and all of the Indian cricket have to be really proud of,” he added.

Further talking about Kohli, Ponting said: “The other thing is there was really was a real focus placed on Test cricket by the 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.” “Given his Test record as captain, he can walk away from the role very, very proud of what he has achieved,” he added.

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