Australia v India Tests
Ponting crowns the world's best batsman
While he's dominated the 50-over format, Virat Kohli still has a way to go in the five-day game
8 February 2017, 11:27 AM AEST
Ricky Ponting believes Virat Kohli is the best batsman in the world and "probably" the greatest one-day international cricketer ever.
But the former Australia captain believes it’s too early in Kohli’s Test career to compare him to his legendary countryman Sachin Tendulkar.
"Is he the best batsman in the world? Yeah, he probably is," Ponting told Gulf News.
"I thought he was six or seven months ago and he’s probably taken it to another level since then.
"Is it too premature to call him the best ever? You can probably say that right now as far as his one-day cricket is concerned.
"His one-day record is outstanding and probably better than anybody that’s ever played the game given how many hundreds he’s made.
"He’ll continue to improve, especially now that he’s the captain (of India in all three formats) as well and his team’s winning."
Kohli’s international record is astonishing; his batting averages in all three formats are currently in excess of 50, the only person ever to achieve the feat.
But with 27 centuries in only 179 matches, his numbers in the one-day internationals are truly unprecedented.
Only Tendulkar (49 hundreds), Ponting (30) and Sri Lanka great Sanath Jayasuriya (27) and have more ODI hundreds than the India captain, and all three of them played more than double the amount of games Kohli has.
The 27-year-old’s Test batting average ticked past 50 after his epic double-century against England in the fourth Test in Mumbai, his 15th triple-figure total in 53 matches.
But Ponting says he still has some way to go to match the likes of Tendulkar, South Africa allrounder Jacques Kallis and stylish West Indies left-hander Brian Lara in the longest form of the game.
"Let’s give him a few years yet in the Test series side of things," Ponting continued.
"It’s too early yet to be taking about him being one of the greats.
"I think the great players we always talk about, the Tendulkars, the Laras, the Kallises, those guys played 120, 130-200 Test matches.
"Virat’s not even halfway along that path."
Which means comparisons of Kohli to Tendulkar, made endlessly by fans and media pundits alike since the younger right-hander burst onto the international scene, are premature, according to Ponting.
"The great thing about Sachin was his longevity in the game," he said.
"To think about someone playing 200 Test matches is quite remarkable and still maintain the standards over such a long period of time.
"I think that’s the difference between the really, really great players and the great players is the longevity and how long they can perform at a certain level for."
"(Kohli) is not the complete, all-round package yet."