Kohli the most impressive batsman: Woodhill

Trent Woodhill, the batting talent development and fielding coach of Royal Challengers Bangalore, calls Virat Kohli the most impressive sportsman. The 47-year-old, who has worked with greats like Virender Sehwag, David Warner, Steve Smith and AB de Villiers, feels India produces batsmen with different kinds of techniques and is sceptical of coaches stressing too much on text-book style of play.

In 2016, it was a dream season for Kohli in the Indian Premier League as he amassed 973 runs from 16 games with four hundreds and seven fifties. Woodhill, who worked as the RCB batting coach then, speaks highly of Kohli’s professionalism. In a free-wheeling chat, the Aussie, a former Daredevils' batting coach, talks about what makes Kohli and de Villiers special, on how Sehwag taught him about batting, on the impact of the ban on Warner and Smith and more. Excerpts:   

On Kohli’s phenomenal success: He is the most impressive sportsman I have had the pleasure to work with – in any sport. He is unbelievable. He’s like the Roger Federers, Cristiano Ronaldos, the Messis. His approach to his own cricketing career and everything involved around it is extremely professional. It’s very organic; it’s really a pleasure to work with him. He’s definitely fitter than he’s ever been. What that allows you to do is under pressure, you are able to replicate technique and replicate movement patterns. So he is less likely than others to play a lazy shot or not execute the way he would like to because his fitness and mind are so sharp.

On de Villiers’ hitting abilities:  I first met AB in 2009 when I was at Delhi Daredevils, and he trains smarter than anybody I’ve worked with. He’s mastered the art of replicating what he needs to do in a period of time in training. In Kohli and AB, you’ve got (Rafael) Nadal and Federer of the cricket world. It’s tough to pick who is the best of them. AB and Federer share a similar DNA I think, and the same with Nadal and Kohli. The point is never dead for Nadal, and the point is never dead for Virat. And AB, he finds a way as Federer does, in conditions where others struggle. Because they have extreme knowledge of their own games, they are able to prepare in a way that allows them to replicate success.  

On working with Sehwag: He’s taught me more about batting than anyone else. Viru did a lot more with his batting than the credit given to him. The problem is that we are led to believe that Viru didn't move his feet. But Viru transferred weight through the ball better than anyone else in his generation. He was able to cut, hit off his hip and drive beautifully. He had the ability to play late with minimum movement. Footwork is only good footwork if it leads to access to the ball. 

On ball-tampering scandal: Obviously I'm extremely close with both (Smith and Warner) the players. I've just hated the way the Australian team has played cricket for the last three-four years. I just feel like their attitude towards the game has been disrespectful. It's the coach who's pushed a culture that leads you to that point. I think both will be okay. Steve and Dave will be fine. They'll come back. It might take a little bit of time, but they'll still reach the same heights as they have previously.

On K L Rahul’s rise: He is phenomenal. He’s going to do great, his ball-striking is unbelievable and his power is excellent as well.

 

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