He was the fastest bowler of his time and one of the most feared. And may I say he has retained that aggression inside and it comes out on occasions, albeit in a good way. Yes Jeff Thomson hasn’t changed and hence makes great conversation. Not very technology savvy, it took him a bit of time to get used to things but when he did, the conversation just flowed. Excerpts from the chat.
Boria- Jeff I am told you have watched the India Pakistan match very closely. How good was Virat and will you say he is as good as Viv Richards in white ball cricket?
Jeff Thomson- Virat is undoubtedly very good and is one of the best of the current generation but to compare him with Viv Richards may still be premature. Keep in mind the kind of protecting equipment modern batsman have and the game has become far more batsman friendly over time. While I am not taking anything away from Virat and love to see him play, Viv, for me, was the best that we have seen. He would dominate from ball one and that was the best feature of his game.
Boria- So if you were asked to bowl to Virat Kohli in this form, how would you approach the job? How does a fast bowler stop him when he is in this kind of form?
Jeff – Look as a bowler you can never be in awe of a batsman. You have to believe you can get a batsman out however good he is. That’s when you will be able to do so. There will be days when the batsman will win the contest. Against someone like Virat who is very good there will be days when you will not win. But that doesn’t mean you will be cowed down and bowl rubbish. You should make him play balls that he doesn’t like playing and bowl to him in areas that aren’t his strengths. If you ask me I would have bowled 24 100 miles per hour yorkers to Virat in a T-20 contest. I could bowl fast and could clock 100 mph and that’s what I would do at my pace. And be consistent with my yorkers. I would push a leg slip back and a second fielder around the second slip grid back at the boundary. He would have to play in the V and I’d like to see how anyone could paddle or lap sweep me at that pace. Against a very good player yorker at real pace is the best weapon for a fast bowler.
Boria- This has been a tournament of upsets so far. Who would be your top 4 Jeff Thomson?
Jeff- My top four would be England, despite the loss I think they are the most balanced side. India, New Zealand and the fourth one can be any between South Africa or Pakistan.
Boria- So No Australia for you in the semi-finals?
Jeff- No. While they are the defending champions, they are a hit and miss kind of side. Even against Sri Lanka they looked wobbly at the top and lost 3 quick wickets. In the Australian line up the best batsman according to me is David Warner. But if he gets out the team struggles. Maxwell, someone you guys love a lot, is a hit and miss player and isn’t dependable. Mitch Marsh too is not someone who is consistent at number 3. The bowling is good but like I said I am worried about our batting and hence don’t feel confident about the team making the last four.
Boria- And what’s your take on David Warner as captain? Do you think the Sandpapergate punishment was harsh and would you advocate David as the future leader of Australia?
Jeff Thomson- I would want Warner to continue as batsman. While he can make a good leader I still think he can better serve Australian cricket as a batsman and hence that’s what I would do. He will turn 36 soon and it will be better if we let him play on as a batsman.
Boria- Let me go back to what I started with. While you don’t want to compare Virat with Sir Viv, would you agree that Virat is the most complete batsman of this generation. His Test record, ODI record and now T-20 record is testimony.
Jeff- Here I tend to agree with you. As I have said earlier Virat is an excellent player and has done well in all formats. Earlier I was of the opinion that England’s Joe Root was perhaps the most complete batsman of this era but he isn’t as consistent in white ball cricket as he is in the red ball and hence I would go with Virat. Kane Williamson and Steve Smith are also very good players but not across formats. That’s where you can say Virat is a complete package.