Former England captain Alastair Cook has included current India skipper Virat Kohli in his list of batsmen who came close to matching the genius of legendary West Indies batter Brian Lara. Lara, who is the only batsman to score 400 in a Test innings, had retired after scoring 11,953 runs in 131 Tests and 10,505 runs in 299 ODIs. During a Q&A session with the Sunday Times, Cook recalled a 2004 tour game where the legendary West Indies batsman had scored a century in a session to leave him awestruck.
"I was part of an MCC team that played West Indies at Arundel in the first match of their 2004 tour," Cook said. "We had a decent bowling attack - Simon Jones, Matthew Hoggard and Min Patel, all of whom were England players. Brian Lara scored a century between lunch and tea which made me realise I was witnessing another level of batsmanship altogether. It was a genius at work," he added.
Apart from Kohli, the other players who found a spot in Cook's list were Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Kumar Sangakkara. "The ones who came close to that when I was playing for England were Ponting, Kallis and Sangakkara," Cook, who captained England for 59 Tests, said.
According to the former England opener, Kohli finds a spot in the list because of his sheer ability to score runs freely across formats. "Now you would have to put Virat Kohli in that group, especially for his ability to score so freely in all three formats," Cook said. Alastair Cook scored 12,472 runs from 161 Tests, the most by an England batsman in the traditional format of the game, at 45.4 with 33 hundreds and 57 fifties. The left-handed opener retired from international cricket after the home series against India in 2018 and he made a 147 in his final Test innings at the Oval.