One of the greatest all-rounders of all time, Sir Richard Hadlee believes India have made an "outstanding contribution" to Test cricket and also heaped heavy praise on Indian captain Virat Kohli and New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson. The 69-year-old also said that batsmen from both sides will probably struggle against quality swing bowling in the inaugural World Test Championship final, to be played in Southampton from June 18-22.
"There is no doubt India produces a lot of revenue for cricket. Without India, the face of world cricket would be very different, therefore cricket needs India. But India has also made an outstanding contribution to Test cricket - like in all formats," the ICC Hall of Famer told Times of India.
"Their Test performances in Australia were outstanding despite that 36 all out blip. They bounced back superbly, and Test cricket came alive again. So many youngsters came into the team and performed. It showed the great depth of talented players India have in all formats.
"The Test Championship is a one-off game. Yes, it is a final, but I don't think either team will be too fazed about it. It is a neutral ground with no home advantage. It is something to look forward to. Both teams deserve to be contesting the final because of their consistency over a set period.
"It all comes down as to who is better prepared and who adapts better to the English conditions the quickest. The weather may also play a part and if it is cold, that will favour New Zealand. The Duke ball will suit both team's fast bowlers, especially the genuine swing bowlers, and the Kiwis are well-served in that department with Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Kyle Jamieson. If the ball seams around off the pitch, batsmen in both teams will be challenged."
Hadlee featured in 86 Tests and 115 ODIs for New Zealand and picked up 589 wickets in international cricket, apart from scoring almost 5000 runs. New Zealand's most prolific wicket-taker in Test cricket said both Williamson and Kohli are different personalities but are quality players and leaders.
"Kane has earned his stripes to be recognised as a great player now and in all formats. By the time he ends his career, he will have all the New Zealand batting records for most runs scored, most hundreds and a world-class batting average.
"Kane has worked on his game and handles pressure extremely well - his temperament is outstanding - he knows his limitations and thrives on his strengths. He keeps his batting game simple, and he has a proven method that is effective. His leadership has also grown, and his personality appears to be unflappable and consistent.
"All sports at the highest level are about competing. It is finding a way to win a game and gain an advantage over one's opponent. There will always be a fine line as to whether gamesmanship from a player or a team goes too far. I quite like seeing any player expressing himself towards the opposition by having a real presence - it is a form of intimidation that can be unsettling.
"I see Virat as being a very passionate and competitive cricketer with a strong desire for himself and the team to succeed."