HAS SCARBADOS ever had it so good?
Next month, Virat Kohli, the world’s best batsman, will be playing at North Marine Road for Surrey against Yorkshire.
Then, in August, Britney Spears, the world’s (ahem) best singer, will be playing at Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre.
Throw in the usual round of Michael Jackson, Roy Orbison and George Michael tribute acts, and visitors to the North Yorkshire resort are not exactly spoilt for choice, and that’s before you consider all the myriad walks, attractions, amusements and eateries – not least the fish and chip shops for which the town is renowned. But, for county cricket lovers, it is the prospect of watching Kohli, of course, that is particularly appetising.
His appearance at North Marine Road will be his final game for Surrey, for whom he will play three County Championship and at least three One-Day Cup matches during June as a warm-up to the five-Test series against England that starts in August.
Whether Spears will also be singing her way into form, as it were, remains to be seen, with Scarborough the first date of her Piece of Me UK tour.
Alas, the paths of Kohli and Spears are not set to cross, with Spears’s gig coming just before the Scarborough Festival, when Yorkshire take on Kevin Sharp’s Worcestershire.Chris Waters
Alas, the paths of Kohli and Spears are not set to cross, with Spears’s gig coming just before the Scarborough Festival, when Yorkshire take on Kevin Sharp’s Worcestershire.
For what it’s worth, I think that Kohli’s presence is good for county cricket.
These days, the standard of overseas players is not nearly as high as it was 20 years or so ago, mainly due to the superfluity of international cricket, which restricts the availability of the very best players.
Kohli’s signing is not only a coup for Surrey and county cricket in general, but his presence will also help to improve the Surrey batsmen and challenge the bowlers against whom he plays.
In addition, he will doubtless put plenty of bums on seats – not that they need enticing on to North Marine Road’s famous wooden benches, ideally softened with a Britney Spears souvenir cushion.
Of course, Kohli is here not merely to sample the delights of Scarbados, but also to try to shake a monkey off his back.
The 29-year-old is still haunted by his failure to adapt to English conditions in 2014, when he averaged just 13.4 in the Test series.
England is the only country, in fact, in which Kohli has played more than one Test and not made a hundred, a record that he is anxious to address.
It is an anomaly unbecoming of the world’s finest batsman, one who averages 53 in Test cricket, 58 in one-day internationals and 50 in T20 internationals, a level of versatility second to none.
So strongly does Kohli feel about his disappointing record in England that he has decided to miss India’s inaugural Test against Afghanistan next month to put things right.
On the surface, this is not the most respectful of moves towards the Afghanistan team, who might have expected the captain of India to make himself available. Cheteshwar Pujara, the Yorkshire batsman, will be returning to Bengaluru to play in the game, while Kohli’s move is also understood to have displeased the England hierarchy, who are concerned that he will be getting accustomed to English conditions.