New Delhi: India's talismanic skipper Virat Kohli says Test cricket should not be "tinkered" with and does not see it getting compressed to four days, as the ICC mulls ways to prop up the sport's traditional format.
Kohli has been one of the top run-getters in Tests in recent times, and plays and talks about it with passion.
"I cannot explain to you the job satisfaction that you get when you do well in Test cricket, because you know how demanding it is," Kohli told 'Wisden'.
"It's the most beautiful format of the game. I don't think it's going to go anywhere. I don't even see it getting compressed to four days."
Asked if he looks at the proposed four-day Test matches as a backward step, India's batting mainstay said, "Definitely. It should not be tinkered with."
The increasing number of T20 leagues around the world has posed a threat to the traditional five-day format, with the ODIs close to facing an existential crisis.
"In a few countries, yes. It all depends on the awareness of people who watch the game. If you take a country like South Africa or Australia or England, they have big crowds for Test matches because people understand the sport.
"It's literally living life over five days. There are so many ups and downs and even when you've done well you've got to keep coming back and doing it all over again.
"I think that if you really understand the sport, if you really love the sport, you understand Test cricket and you understand how exciting it is. I cannot explain to you the job satisfaction that you get when you do well in Test cricket, because you know how demanding it is."
The ICC will introduce a nine-team two-year Test world championship in 2019, alongside a 13-team ODI league as well as trialling four-day matches.
Kohli is in favour of the forthcoming Test championship. He scored 593 runs at 59.30 in the Test series against England.
"I think that is going to give a huge push to Test cricket. It makes every series more competitive, and there's going to be ups and downs throughout the Championship, which I really look forward to. The teams that love playing Test cricket are always going to be passionate about it.
"And it also depends on the system you have back home as well. If you're not going to give more importance to first-class cricket, then people are going to lose motivation to play the longest format of the game.
"And with the T20 format coming in I think there's far greater responsibility on all the cricket boards across the world to treat first-class cricket really well, because if the facilities and the standard goes up, then the motivation always stays."
The prolific scorer said predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the only captain he has picked up aspects of leadership from.
"Not really anyone before MS. I was always someone who kept talking to him about the game so even when I was really young, before I was made vice-captain, I would give him my suggestions.
"I love thinking about the game and that's why I enjoy captaincy so much and I enjoy chasing totals so much I love using my brain to figure out what needs to be done during the game.
"I've learned the most from MS, standing so close to him at slip so many times and just observing him at close quarters.
In the same interview, Kohli also revealed that the two people with whom he enjoyed discussing cricket the most were the former India coaches Gary Kirsten and Duncan Fletcher.
While India won the ICC World Cup 2011 when Kirsten was the coach of the team, Fletcher took over after the South Africa decided to step down from his position as India head coach. Under Fletcher, India went on to win the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013.
"Gary Kirsten and Duncan Fletcher [former India coaches] are probably the two people I’ve enjoyed discussing cricket with the most. Gary was all about the feel of the game – how you feel as a player and how confident you are mentally. Those small things really matter because I know how to strike a cricket ball but how to get into a zone where I am confident of striking the cricket ball is something I would discuss with Gary. And the same with Duncan as well. To be able to see the game in a particular manner is so much more important than to be able to hit that cover drive," said Kohli.
"Duncan has such a great understanding of what a particular player needs to correct his game. He would stand in front of me when I was batting in the nets and tell me, ‘Open your shoulder two inches’. Then I would do that and my game would open up and I would be like, ‘What was that!?’. It was that small. If he told me that then he wouldn’t apply it to Shikhar Dhawan or MS [Dhoni] or anyone else. That was for my game. That’s how well he understood individual players," added Kohli.
The Indian cricket team skipper tied the knot with Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma last year. While the two have never shied away from expressing their love for one another, the two have time and again stated that the two largely similar to each other. When asked whether it helps to have someone like Anushka as his wife, someone who understands what it’s like to be in the public eye, he answered in affirmative.
"That was one of the reasons why we got along so well, to be able to understand each other’s mindset and the demands of being in such a position. And also the fact that we are so similar in terms of the backgrounds we have. People do not understand us at all. They think we live a fairytale life and things are only of royal standards, but in reality we are really normal people. We are in the public eye so it seems too far-fetched for the public to connect with, but we lead a very simple life at home. And that’s how we like to live. We do something that is in the public eye but we never chose to be recognised in this way," said Kohli.
"Ever since I’ve been with my wife we understand the responsibility that we have as known people back home. It’s not only in terms of inspiring people through what I do or she does, but how we portray ourselves as a couple as well, and to set the right example there – to teach people the right things to follow and not worry too much about what people are going to say, because that can be a massive factor back home. We take this as a responsibility of being in the position that we are. Even in cricket now, for me it’s not about what I want to achieve as a cricketer, it’s more to do with how I can inspire the next lot of players. I feel that is more of a responsibility now, and not merely going on the park and hitting a ball," added Kohli.
While Virat has always been in the public eye, considering he is one of the most followed cricketers in India, he has always stated he and Anushka like to live their life like normal people. It once again came to light when he said that he enjoys walking around in parks or visiting coffee shops during India's recent tour of England.
"We really enjoy our time when we come to other countries. We get to walk around and that’s very liberating, to be able to enjoy normal stuff like going out for breakfast or to coffee shops, because we don’t walk at all back home – it’s only getting out of our house, into our car and going wherever we want to go, then back into our car to go home. We love pets, so if we see dogs around we play with them. We can literally do whatever we want in terms of buying things or having something but to be able to enjoy and be grateful about life every day is something that we take very seriously," concluded Kohli....