Mirror, mirror on the wall ”“ who’s the best among the four Kohli, Smith, Root or Williamson?


By Kersi Meher-Homji

The Twenty20 International (T20I) series between India and South Africa is at razor’s edge. South Africa won last night by 6 wickets to draw level the series one-all with the final match on Saturday at Cape Town.

In reply to India’s 4-188 in 20 overs, Manish Pande (79 not out) and MS Dhoni (52 not out) adding 98 for the unbroken fifth wicket partnership.

South Africa replied with 4-189 in 18.4 overs, skipper JP Dumini (64 not out) and wicket-keeper Heinrich Klaasen (69 with seven sixes) putting on 93 for the third wicket. Klaasen was adjudged Man of the Match.

For once, Kohli failed, dismissed for 1. With few exceptions, India wins when Kohli fires but loses when Kohli flops with the bat. As simple as that!

By a coincidence, the current four top batsmen in Tests and ODIs are captains. They are Kohli from India, Steve Smith from Australia, Joe Root from England and Kane Williamson from New Zealand.

Kohli is head and shoulders above them in T20Is, having the highest average of 50.84 in the history of this format.

It is debatable as to who is the best of the four. That is why I have presented their statistics in separate Tables below.

Current captains’ batting figures in Tests

Players Tests Runs Average  HS  SR 100s  100s/Test
S Smith (Aus) 61 6057 63.75  239  55.76  23  0.377
V Kohli (Ind) 66 5554 53.40  243  58.26  21  0.318
J Root (Eng) 65 5701 53.28  254  55.76  13  0.200
K. Williamson (NZ) 63 5214 50.62  242*  50.51  17  0.270

HS = Highest Score, * = not out,     SR = Strike Rate

Smith has scored most runs in this group (6057 runs) with the highest average of 63.75 and hit most centuries (23) at 0.377 century per Test.

Current captains’ batting figures in ODIs

Players ODIs Runs Average  HS SR 100s  100s/ODI
V Kohli (Ind) 208 9588 58.10  183 92.14  35  0.168
S Smith (Aus) 108 3431 41.84  164 86.35  8  0.074
J Root (Eng) 102 4226 50.91  133* 86.79  10  0.098
K. Williamson (NZ) 123 4977 46.51  145* 83.56  10  0.081

HS = Highest Score, * = not out,     SR = Strike Rate

Kohli is the clear leader in ODIs, having scored most runs, 9588 (HS 183) at the highest batting average of 58.10 and SR of 92.14 He has also hit most centuries, 35 at the best rate of century per ODI (0.168).

It is because of him as a captain and batsman that India is ranked number one in Tests and in ODIs.

Skipper Virat Kohli was outstanding in the ODI series against South Africa in South Africa leading India to a first ever series win (5-1) in South Africa.

What a whopping victory, thanks to his recording 558 runs (HS 160 not out) at 168.00 and a SR of 99.46, hitting three centuries at 0.5 century per ODI.

Kohli said at the post-match press conference on Friday night after  India defeated South Africa  by eight wickets in Centurion to win the series 5-1:

I am not competing with anyone at all. It’s my job; I am supposed to do what I am doing and I am not doing anyone a favour. It’s all about how I prepare before the game and what my work ethics are and how I am feeling on the game day. My only motivation is to get into that frame of mind.”


How do these top four compare in T20 Internationals?

Current captains’ batting figures in T20Is

Players T20Is Runs Average HS SR 50s 50s/T20Is
V Kohli (Ind) 57 1983 50.84 90* 137.32 18 0.316
K Williamson (NZ) 51 1316 31.33 73* 120.95 8 0.157
J Root (Eng) 25 743 39.10 90* 128.76 4 0.160
S Smith (Aus) 30 431 21.55 90 122.44 2 0.067

HS = Highest Score, * = not out,     SR = Strike Rate

As no one in this group has hit a century, the number of 50s scored by the players are presented in the Table above.

Kohli is the clear winner in this group. But overall, by number of runs scored the leader in T20Is is Martin Guptill of New Zealand. In 73 matches he has scored 2188 runs (HS 105) at an average of 34.18 and SR of 132.84, hitting two centuries and 13 fifties. Thus he has hit 0.205 fifties per match.

Kohli still leads on average, SR and 50s/T20I. His average of 50.84 in T20I is phenomenal, as astounding as Don Bradman’s Test average of 99.94.





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