There Was a Time

There was a time, years ago, when Mark Ramprakash wasn't the cause célèbre he later became. The man who embodies both all that is good and pure and true in batting technique, but at the same time the player who, more than any other modern Englishman, represents a certain type of failure. The man who simply couldn't cope with the pressure of performing at the highest level of the game, of living up to everybody's expectations, including his own.

There was a time - such as when I first glimpsed him, scything away at Paul-Jan Bakker on a London club ground in the late eighties - when Ramprakash just used to go out and bat. His technique wasn't the thing of beauty it subsequently became, but it didn't need to be. All he needed was his eye, his footwork, his bravery and his bat. He was relatively unsophisticated, but he was also endlessly aggressive and very good.

I say this because Virat Kohli reminds me strongly of the Ramprakash that once was. Like the young Ramprakash he has a brilliant eye, an orthodox yet uncomplicated technique which works, and he approaches bowlers as though they exist only to serve up balls for him to hit to the boundary. While the statistics which accompany his embryonic Test career are anaemic, his one-day career is taking vivid shape as part of an Indian team which is attempting to create an identity which distinguishes it both from the old guard who are going or gone, and from an England tour which should have shocked it to its foundations. At the moment it is succeeding and there is little chance of mistaking England for a team which knows how to stem the flow.

Just a few short weeks ago England were humiliating India. Now, with home advantage reversed, everything is very different. At a steaming Wankhede Stadium tomorrow, a transformed Indian side will be confident of extending their series lead to 4-0.

Kohli will be more confident than most, because this, you feel, is how he is. It remains to be seen whether he can succeed where Ramprakash failed in the long game, but he will surely have further opportunities.

Rahane is deeply impressive, and the hunch is that more will be seen of Pujara before too long. Kohli, though, with equally outstanding centuries against England at venues as diverse as Cardiff and Delhi over the last five weeks, is India's real diamond.

There was a time when Ramprakash seemed to have the world at his feet. He never quite did.

Kohli really does.

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