In a new book, Bazball: The Inside Story of a Test Cricket Revolution written by Nick Hoult and Lawrence Booth, Alex Lees detailed a run-in with Virat Kohli during the 2022 Edgbaston Test.

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Alex Lees was playing in his sixth Test at Edgbaston during the postponed England-India clash in 2022. The series was on the line as England were trailing the home series from the year before 1-2 coming into the final match. Chasing a record 378 in England, Lees scored 56 off 65 in a 107-run opening partnership with Zak Crawley. The duo racked up the three-figure opening stand in just 19.5 overs, before England knocked off the mammoth total in just 76.4 overs to level the series.

There were numerous occasions during Test when Kohli tried to get under the skin of the opposition’s players. His run-in with Lees was once such instance. However, Lees was unfazed by Kohli’s on-field antics, commenting that the star Indian batter acted like an “idiot”.

“Kohli was carrying on for quite a while,” he said, in an extract of the book serialised in The Telegraph. “Because I was an inexperienced international, he was trying to use his weight. It was a pretty poor cricket chat.

“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.”

Lees lost his patience and retorted with a cheeky comment on Kohli’s century drought: “I’ve had two kids since you last scored a century.”

After a ton in a Test against Bangladesh in November 2019, Kohli had failed to score an international century in close to three years until September 2022, during a dead rubber T20 face-off against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup. Lees picked up that information from the media and rubbed it in to Kohli, who scored 11 and 20 in the two innings of the Edgbaston Test.

“There was a lot of noise around that. He is only human, and I knew it must be playing on his mind and was the thing that would probably wind him up the most. Once I had spoken to him, he saw a bit of red mist, especially when we came out after tea. He is a competitor. He wants to win. I will never understand the weight of a billion people on my shoulders, but you can be competitive without losing your cool.”

However, Lees regretted missing out on a century and not finishing the game for his team: I knew I had got to him. The biggest shame for me was I reached 56 and then got run out. The ultimate reply would have been to get an unbeaten hundred and win the game, but I didn’t get the chance.”

Kohli has not looked back ever since his comeback hundred against Afghanistan. Since then, he has piled on 2,119 runs from 44 matches, averaging 57.27 across formats. With seven centuries in this period and a total of 78 overall, he now trails the great Sachin Tendulkar, who has 100 tons. Kohli, who has been in red-hot form in the World Cup 2023, currently has 48 ODI hundreds and is zeroing in on Tendulkar’s record of 49.