Justin Langer expressed “respect” Friday for Virat Kohli putting family before cricket, while strongly suggesting Joe Burns would remain opener for Australia in the first Test against India, reports AFP.
India skipper Kohli and his Bollywood star wife Anushka Sharma are expecting their first child in January, and he is set to return home after the opening Test in Adelaide ends on December 21.
Given the superstar batsman would have to quarantine again for 14 days if heading back to Australia, it appears certain he will miss the final three Tests in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
His absence improves Australia’s chances of avenging their home series defeat to India two years ago, but is a blow for broadcasters and fans. “Virat Kohli is probably the best player I’ve ever seen in my life for so many reasons, not only batting but his energy and passion for the game, the way he fields,” Langer told reporters by video conference.
“I cannot believe he displays the energy he does in everything he does and I’ve got so much respect for him. I’ve also got respect for him in the sense that he’s made this decision (to return for the birth).
“He’s a human being like all of us… if I was giving advice to any of my players I would always say never, ever miss the birth of your children because it is one of the great things you’ll ever do.”
Kohli will lead India in three ODIs from late November, three Twenty20 internationals and the first Test — a day-night match — before departing.
“Of course it will have an impact (his absence), but we also know that India beat us last time (in 2018-19). They’re a very, very good team, we cannot get complacent for a second with or without Virat,” Langer added.