However, according to the former captain, the general standard of Test match batting has “deteriorated in the current times”.
Hughes, who played 70 Tests and also captained Australia during a critical phase, was regarded as a very stylish batsman from the late 70s to the mid 80s, before rapidly declining following a slump in form.
“Virat Kohli will be a world-class player in any era because he is tough, has a fantastic technique and a lot of courage. He will do well in any era,” 68-year-old Hughes told PTI in an interview .
For Hughes, there is no one bigger and better than Sir Vivian Richards, but Kohli would only come in the next bracket.
“Kohli would have been equally successful against the West Indies team of the 70s and 80s. Maybe he is not in the class of Viv, but suddenly in the upper level.
“Viv was above everyone else, but Virat is definitely in the league of Greg Chappell, Allan Border and Javed Miandad, the best of my era,” said the man, who had 4,000 plus Test runs.
Hughes, who has nine Test hundreds 22 half-centuries apart, feels that a 50-plus average is not a big deal in these times. But back in the day it was kind of a novelty because of the kind of pace attack that the top teams had.
“Only great players in my era averaged 50, and there were only half a dozen at maximum,” said Hughes, whose own average was around 38, though there were few who had the style and flair of his.
He gave a technical example.
“In the late 70s and mid 80s, Viv was the only batsman who could consistently hit a pacer for six over extra cover. And now even my nine-year-old grandson could hit a six.
“No team now has four great fast bowlers like the West Indies of yesteryear and in our era only Viv, Greg (Chappell), AB (Grens) and Javed Miandad were four great players. They averaged 50 plus,” he added.
“I’m sorry, the players are now not in the league of Viv, Greg, Javed and Allan.”
Reason for Decline in Test Match Batting
Hughes feels that T20 cricket is one of the biggest reasons why current batsmen face technical difficulties.
“T20 overs cricket has led to the deterioration of technique of many batsmen as they get on the front foot. Big bats, short boundaries and foul shots go for sixes.
“Most of the Test batsmen in this era would not know what the back foot looks like. Due to limited overs cricket, they have only dropped out on the front foot and are being sorted out by good bowlers,” he reasoned.
Birthday boy Virat Kohli’s top 5 T20I innings
Hughes feels that among the younger generation of batsmen, Cameron Green has a solid back-foot game, and with his all-round skills would be the “best all-rounder” in the coming days.
Cricket Australia and its ‘deplorable’ ways
Hughes is not exactly a big fan of Cricket Australia and the way it has handled some of the recent controversies.
He cited three examples – sandpaper gate, David Warner’s future captaincy issue, and the Justin Langer exit episode.
“I think the way Cricket Australia handled the sandpaper incident was poor. Former chief executive James Sutherland didn’t talk about it for three days.
“He should have got on the plane immediately and come to South Africa and told the cricket manager and captain that ‘no one says anything until I reach’.”
If sandpaper gate was bad, the way Langer had to leave the Australian head coach’s job was worse.
“The Langer situation has been handled absolutely deplorably. After they beat England and then decided to postpone and then had the audacity to offer him a six-month contract rather than ask him to play the World Cup tournament (last edition in the UAE). I think they treated Justin Langer shamefully,” he sounded quite angry.
He also feels that CA’s stance of seeing Warner as a potential captain reeks of double standards.
“They have also handled the David Warner situation very poorly and he has not been in newspaper reports and media in relation to sandpaper and other people involved in it as well.
“Yes, it is not right and David took it on the chin. Smith was responsible as captain. He is now eligible, and David is not.”
Don’t see Cummins playing T20s after this edition
Playing three formats along with league cricket is not feasible at this time and hence, Pat Cummins Hughes is unlikely to play any more T20s after this World Cup.
“After this T20 World Cup, I think Pat won’t play too many T20Is for Australia. He doesn’t need to play them and he needs to have a rest.
“He would play the odd 50-over match and some youngsters come up so he has to let them play and he will focus on Tests especially going to England,” he said.
Alcohol addiction and conversion into mental health coach
The past two years have been challenging for Hughes, who saw a downward spiral during the first wave of COVID, when he drowned himself in alcohol and needed counseling and rehab.
“It just did,” he said, pausing for a moment.
“Covid came and there was no corporate talk, but that’s not an excuse. It creeps in all of a sudden and you don’t realize. Drinking or being around alcohol was very much a part of my life as it is with many Australian men.
“We don’t talk about things,” said the man whose cover rides were as much a fad as his blonde curls.
For Hughes, more than his 9 hundreds and Test best of 213, the greatest “century” is not drinking alcohol for 101 weeks.
“Yes, today is 101 weeks without drinking alcohol. I was on the wrong path, and went into rehab on the advice of my son, and this is the best hundred I have ever scored. 101 weeks, and I haven’t missed a drink yet,” he laughed.
“This is the best thing that happened to me. I can talk to people about ways to overcome alcohol or drug addiction, gambling. I work a lot on mental well-being and mental health. I’m a mental health coach.”
The bright side of COVID was that his three sons and daughter gave birth to five grandchildren in the past 20 months.
“COVID has proven to be productive for Team Hughes,” he burst out laughing.
And how is he doing financially?
“Well I’m fine, I’m not a millionaire but I live in the best place in the world and that’s Australia,” he signed off.