Melbourne: Virat Kohli is one of the best players Justin Langer has ever seen and his absence from the last three tests in the upcoming series will be keenly felt, the Australia coach said on Friday.
Kohli will head home after the series-opening test at Adelaide Oval to be with his wife ahead of the birth of their first child, robbing India of their captain and star batsman.
Langer said the impact on India would be like any team taking out their best player.
“I’ve said this before, he is probably the best player I’ve ever seen in my life for so many reasons,” Langer told reporters in a video call.
“It’s not only his batting but his energy, his passion for the game, the way he fields. I cannot believe the energy he displays in everything he does.
“Are we happy he’s not playing? It’s like taking Dustin Martin out of Richmond, isn’t it?” added Langer, referring to the champion Australian Rules footballer.
Langer said he respected Kohli’s decision and would encourage his own players to miss cricket to be present for the birth of their children if it came up.
Australia were beaten by India 2-1 the last time Kohli’s side toured in 2018/19 and Langer said the hosts could ill-afford to breathe any easier without Kohli around.
“Of course it’ll have an impact but we also know that India, they beat us last time, they’re a very, very good team,” he said.
“We cannot get complacent for a second with or without Virat. So we’re going to have to be on our toes all summer and we’re looking forward to that.”
Kohli, though, will play in the short-form internationals on India’s tour, which kicks off with a one-day international series starting in Sydney on Nov. 27.