Out-of-favour England opener Alex Lees, who was playing just his sixth Test at Edgbaston in Birmingham last year found it a bit odd seeing someone like Virat Kohli, who wasn’t letting his team’s batters settle. Trailing 1-2 in the series, England were required to chase down a record target of 378 runs against India in the rescheduled fifth Test and hence a good opening stand, which they got. Team India got its first taste of Bazball as the openers forged a 100-run stand in less than 20 overs.
India were getting fidgety and the man at the centre for England was Alex Lees who smashed a spirited half-century. Kohli, who previously had banters and spats with a few English players was trying to get under Lees’ skin till the left-hander had it enough and gave it back to the former Indian captain.
Recalling the whole incident in Nicholas Hoult and Lawrence Booth’s book ‘Bazball: The Inside Story of a Test Cricket Revolution’, Lees said that Kohli was trying to use his seniority in international cricket but he believed that on a cricket pitch all are equal and when it got too much, he had to retort. “Kohli was carrying on for quite a while. Because I was an inexperienced international, he was trying to use his weight. It was a pretty poor cricket chat,” Lees was quoted as saying by Telegraph in an excerpt from the book.
“He was just carrying on in a fashion he can do sometimes. He had been getting under people’s skin in the field when he was batting. I’m not fussed about someone’s position in the game. We are all equal out on the pitch. I just wasn’t going to put up with someone trying to intimidate me. It was as simple as that. He is an incredible player, but I thought he was just being a bit of an idiot,” he added.
After losing his patience and a bit of cool, Lees hit a sensitive nerve referring to Kohli’s then 2.5-year-long century drought saying, “I’ve had two kids since you last scored a century.”
Lees further said that before coming into the Test match there was a lot of noise around the topic and admitted that it could happen with anyone as he is a human being after all. However, having picked up the same from the media, he had to use it but after it got too much. Kohli’s century drought was extended at Edgbaston with scores of 11 and 20 in two innings. Kohli would then go on to break his 1019-day long drought in Asia Cup 2022 against Afghanistan with a maiden T20I ton.