Times of India interviewed ex-captain Ray Illingworth who had captained England against India in the historic 1971 Test match which England lost to India. Illingworth had hardly lost matches during his tenure as captain from 1969 to 1973. This was a particularly sad loss for him and he still regrets it. He believes that India will put its best foot forward to catch up with England.
When asked about the passing away of Ajit Wadekar, who had captained India in the 1971 series, Illingworth commented that he was indeed a good captain who could work with the resources provided to him. Wadekar was difficult to dislodge. He commended the late player on his victory, especially because India had no good swing bowlers for that series.
The next question was whether the present Indian team could achieve the same feat, he said that these were different eras and that England should have won that series 2-0. After they lost the first match, the second match was won by the spinners, and now it was the Indian pacers who were toppling England.
He said that the Birmingham Test had gone great but at Lord’s India had to suffer the bad weather. They made a comeback in the Nottingham match, with both the bowlers and batsmen doing their jobs well. Talking about the change in Indian cricket, he said that the fitness and fielding standards had gone up greatly in the last few years. Also, with coaches like Dennis Lillee, the pacers have improved.
He seemed quite defensive when asked about Alastair Cook’s form and said that the bowlers were bowling the right length and line at him, making him play more. Cook is finding it hard to cope with the attack on the off-stump. Due to DRS, he cannot just let the ball hit the pad. He mostly has to play beside the line, said Illingworth.
When asked about Virat Kohli as a captain, he said that Kohli is one of the best batsmen from India, he has seen. The best part about his game is his ability to adapt to different formats. To be a successful captain, he said, one must be intuitive and perform and Kohli is doing both. His players are ready to fight for him and the technical support and support staff helping out makes the captain’s job easier.