Former England captain Mike Brearley. @ Getty Images

One of England’s most successful Test captains, Mike Brearley feels individuals wicketkeeping in this era hasn’t matched his expectations.

“Individual skills have grown in many ways – fielding, defensive bowling, attacking batting, catching, athleticism. One thing which hasn’t necessarily improved is wicketkeeping as a skill and in technique,” Brearley, who led England in 31 Test matches and won 17 of those, was quoted as saying in Cricbuzz on Thursday.

“The other area that I’d have thought has lagged somewhat in the last 20 years is slow bowling. But to my pleasant surprise spinners like Shane Warne, Anil Kumble, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ashwin have done quite well.”

The Middlesex glovesman though is happy to see players obsessed with their fitness. “If you can bat for four-five hours in the heat and still run hard, take short singles, convert twos into threes, bowl 25 overs in a day rather than 15, then it’s a good thing to strive to be fully and physically fit,” he said.

Brearley, a big admirer of India captain Virat Kohli, has no qualms about the swashbuckling batsman leading the side in all three formats. “If you have different captains, you can get fresh inputs. But the disadvantage is that there could be split allegiances. So, the Test captain may not think it’s his team. Kohli is the best batsman in the country and in world cricket in all formats. He comes across as a genius and is assured of playing all the time. So, unless he becomes too dominating, for which there should be checks and balances, it’s fine to have him as the leader across formats,” he said. (ALSO READ: If Virat Kohli stays fit, he will score 100 international centuries: Mohammad Azharuddin)

Asked to dole out tips on leadership, Brearley feels the two most important aspects are that are needed to be a good captain are humility and fairness. “There is no secret recipe to be a good captain. It’s important to realize that you can’t possibly know everything, you must be willing to learn. You follow the process, develop and mature as you go along,” said the 76-year-old Englishman.

“Also, it’s very important to let others express themselves… you must listen to everyone’s point of view. I wanted 11 people in the team to be thinking as captains.” (ALSO READ: Rishabh Pant has lot of technical problems: Farokh Engineer)

A captain, who handled a team with talented players like Geoffrey Boycott, David Gower, Ian Botham, Mike Gatting, Chris Old and Bob Willis, Brearley spoke about he handled such a side despite being an average batsman.

“The first thing was to realise that you’re so very lucky to have all these players in your team and the chance to influence them, so just enjoy and don’t be envious,” he said.

“Secondly, even the most talented have their anxieties and need reassurance. And sometimes, there’s a need to rein in the exuberance of someone like Botham… tell him that six runs an over is enough, we don’t need 10.”