With runs bleeding from his blade and records tumbling, Steve Smith announced his return to the Test arena in the most emphatic fashion after serving a one year ban for the Sandpaper gate. In the ongoing Ashes 2019, Smith not only top-scored the run-making charts among the two teams but has also reignited cricket’s most heated debate around world’s best batsman. 589 runs in 4 Test innings at a mind-boggling average of more than 160, the former Aussie skipper is making batting look ridiculously easy in Test cricket.

The 30-year-old Smith smashed a brilliant double hundred against England on Thursday to put Australia in total command of the fourth Test. He had already taken back the No.1 Test batsmen slot from India skipper Virat Kohli. But the debate on who between Kohli and Smith is currently the best batsman in world cricket refuses to die down. Legendary Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne has said that if he had to pick one for Tests, Smith would have a slight advantage over his otherwise favourite Kohli. Warne feels across formats though Kohli takes the cake and the Indian will go on to break Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 100 hundreds.

“As far as Test cricket goes, I would probably say it is a really tough one between Virat and Smith. But I think if I had to pick one batsman in Test cricket, it would be Smith, but if I lost that and had Virat, I would still be happy because he is a legend,” Warne was quoted by IANS in an exclusive chat.

“I think Virat is the best batsman in the world. I think if I had to pick one batsman across all formats, it would have to be Virat. Viv Richards was the greatest batsman I saw in ODI cricket and in all cricket probably. But Virat is now the greatest ODI player that we have seen. He overtakes Viv for me.”

India skipper Kohli hits centuries like he is taking a walk in the park and while not many thought that Tendulkar’s record of 100 hundreds would get overtaken anytime soon, the 30-year-old is very much in the race to overtake the legend. With 68 centuries in international cricket and age on his side, Warne believes that Kohli could well finish with the maximum number of centuries when he hangs his boots.

The former Australia star said that his good friend Tendulkar could have Kohli overtaking him. But the wizard was quick to add that making and breaking records is what makes the game interesting.

“Yes, I think Sachin’s records are in danger and it is like anyone else who has a record. With me having 708 Test wickets, I was asked the question if I think Nathan Lyon can get me, I hope he does because that will mean that he has played well for a long period of time. It is the same with Sachin. I believe if you ask him if he wants Virat to break his records, he would say absolutely. It will be great fun to watch. Look out Sachin, Virat is coming for you,” he smiled.

Warne feels that Kohli has the attitude needed to go out and succeed against the best bowlers in the game. “I think he will break all records and I am a big fan of how he goes about his job and I have said that publicly as well. I think Virat in all forms of the game is the best batsman in the world,” he said.

While Kohli’s achievements as a batsman are well documented, the captain has often been criticised. But Warne begs to differ and feels that the Indian skipper is learning the tricks of the trade and getting better with each passing day. “I think he is a wonderful leader. You are never the best version of yourself when you first start as captain and it generally takes a bit of time. I think he is growing into the role. I think maybe he was a little bit too emotional when he took over, but I love his passion and I think he is starting to get the balance between emotion, passion and being calm. I think he is also getting better tactically,” he explained.

Warne also wants to thank the run-machine for standing by the longest format of the game and giving it the due importance in the age of slam-bang T20 cricket.

“All of us old fellows who love Test cricket, we owe him a big thank you for saying that Test cricket is the most important form of the game. When you have the biggest superstar of world cricket saying that, it is good for us old guys, who love Test cricket,” he signed off.