At 32 years of age and 12 years into his extraordinary international cricket career, Virat Kohli has reached a stage where he seems to break a record every time he takes to the cricket field.
In the last two ODI matches against Australia Kohli broke two of Sachin Tendulkar‘s records, becoming the quickest batsman to reach both 12,000 runs in the 50 over format, and 22,000 runs in all formats of the game.
Both are incredible achievements, particularly when you consider he also has the added burden of captaining his country.
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝟏𝟐,𝟎𝟎𝟎 𝐜𝐥𝐮𝐛
*Virat Kohli has entered the chat* pic.twitter.com/RvwCNTLj0U
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) December 2, 2020
With Virat Kohli still at the peak of his powers, he is now eighth on the all-time list of batsmen with most combined runs in international cricket.
At the top of that list, and still some way off in the distance is Sachin Tendulkar who retired in 2013 with 34,357 runs scored, more than 6,000 clear of Kumar Sangakkara in second place.
Tendulkar amassed these runs over a 24 year period, playing a staggering 664 matches and scoring at an average of 48.52. He also scored a remarkable 100 international centuries.
However Kohil is well on track to break his records if he can maintain his current trajectory. He has amassed his 22,074 runs in 419 matches at an average of 56.16, over seven runs higher than Tendulkar. He has also scored 70 centuries already, leaving him in third place on the all time list, just one behind Ricky Ponting.
Since making his international debut, Virat Kohli has scored an average of 1,839 runs a year. If he continues to score runs at this rate Kohli would surpass Tendulkar’s total in roughly six and a half years.
A number of obstacles that may stand in his way though. Firstly, the burden of the captaincy. Virat Kohli has managed to buck the trend that has afflicted many batsmen. The trials of leadership have had little effect on his batting talents.
However the stresses and strains of leadership will undoubtedly take their toll. Captaining the Indian cricket team is no ordinary job, with the hopes of a nation resting on your shoulders. It was a burden Tendulkar never carried and helps explain the longevity of his career.
Age may also be against Virat Kohli. Although only 32 and still incredibly fit, there are few players that continue at the highest level until their late thirties. Tendulkar was an exception to the rule as he played until the age of 40.
Family commitments may also prove a factor. Kohli is due to become a father for the first time in January 2021. That may lessen his desire to spend most of the year travelling the world playing international cricket.
Having said all that, Virat Kohli’s destiny remains in own hands. Statistically, he’s already making a strong case to be considered among the greatest batsmen of the modern game.
If he wants to break Tendulkar record, and has the desire and fitness to play for another seven or eight years, his talent and record suggests nothing can stop him from doing so.