What, exactly, is Virat Kohli?
Over the course of the India-Australia series, Indian captain Virat Kohli has been the talking point in the media for several reasons other than cricket. Admittedly, Kohli is having a terrible series by his standards with the bat, and that is enough to set tongues wagging. However, the 28-year-old has been at the receiving end of severe criticism from the Australian camp.
It all came to head in the Bengaluru Test that India won to level the series, when Kohli insinuated that the Australian team was breaking rules by repeatedly consulting the dressing room for DRS decisions, a moment his Australian counterpart called a one-time “brain fade”. It all went downhill from there, with barbs and accusations flying around, including sledging Kohli by poking fun at his injured shoulder.
From current and former players to the media and even administration, almost everyone has had words to say about Kohli. And these words veer from fairly complimentary to fiercely contradictory. Here’s a look at what are the different things Kohli is, as told by Australia’s cricket fraternity.
New face of India: Steve Waugh
“There’s probably elements of Ricky and myself in his captaincy, but having said that he’s his own man,” former Australian captain Waugh told cricket.com.au. “He’s the new face of India, he can get in your face, he’s aggressive, he’s positive, and he leads in a certain way so the other guys know how he wants the team to play,” he added.
Great leader: Adam Gilchrist
“Kohli is a great leader. He drags his team and his nation with him,” former Australian wicket-keeper Gilchirst said, “I am fearful Virat Kohli is due for a lot of runs [in Dharamsala].”
Not sure he knows how to spell the word ‘sorry’: James Sutherland
“Look, I am not sure he knows how to spell the word [sorry],” Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland said, when asked during an interview whether the Indian captain should apologise for questioning Australian captain Steve Smith’s integrity during the second Test.
Needs to behave better: Geoff Lawson
“His language has been pretty much unacceptable,” former Australian player and Pakistan coach Lawson said. “And for a captain to then carry out a press conference and then just show so little diplomacy. But he’s a great, great player. He’s one of the best players going around, but you’ve got to behave as a captain better than that.”
I always somehow find an Australian in him: Michael Clarke
“...I love Kohli and the Australian public love him,” former Australian captain Michael Clarke said that Kohli shoudn’t be bothered by the Australian media’s comments. “I always somehow find an Australian in him the way he plays and I absolutely love how he accepts challenges. It’s just two or three reporters who are trying to tarnish him but Virat shouldn’t be bothered.”
Burning desire to win: Shane Watson
“One of the things I absolutely love about Virat is he’s got such a deep down burning desire to win – and obviously he’s up to pushing the limits,” Shane Watson, Kohli’s IPL teammate at Royal Challengers Bangalore, said. “It’s a great thing for his team because they just get behind him as well.”
Frustrated: Mitchell Johnson
“He’s obviously quite passionate, but I just think he’s frustrated because he hasn’t scored runs and he’s letting his emotions get the better of him” Johnson wrote in his blog on foxsports.com. He was giving a send-off to just about every player, which you’ve got to be very careful with. It can happen sometimes, when you’re pumped up and you get a bit too fired up,” Johnson added.
Got to be a lot more respectful: Ian Healy
“The pressure is starting to tell on [Kohli],” Ian Healy told Melbourne radio station SEN after Kohli’s sledging in the first Test at Pune. “I’m losing respect for him. He’s got to be a lot more respectful of his opponents. The stuff he did with Steve Smith was unacceptable. I’ve said in the past, he [Kohli] is the best batsman I’ve ever seen. His feistiness and real aggression towards the opposition has been good [in the past], especially when he was not captain. It would lead his team with him. They’re more timid than they look and they let on, the Indian cricketers.
Head of the snake: Nathan Lyon
“Everybody wants to compete against the best and he [Kohli] is one of the best players in the world. He is obviously the head of the snake if you want to put it in Dale Steyn’s terms. So it’s quite pleasing to take Kohli’s wicket,” Lyon said after first day’s play in Bengaluru. “To take his wicket today was exceptional but we know this series is a massive one and it’s a long series. We expect him to bounce back,” he added.
Donald Trump: The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph have been so vociferous in their comments on Kohli, they deserve a column of their own for the wonderfully, colourful things they have printed. Here’s a brief look, offered without comment.
“Virat Kohli’s Donald Trump-like contempt for the truth making mockery of the game.”
“The Indian captain is a law unto himself with no one – not even the ICC or his own board – holding him accountable for his continual perpetuation of fake news.”
“Kohli unleashed an astonishing outburst in the dressing rooms following his dismissal, smashing a Gatorade bottle off a table, where it then rebounded off a television and struck an Australian team official on the leg. Kohli was also seen swearing in the direction of the Australian box as he left the field and using a throat-slitting gesture to send-off Peter Handscomb late in the Test.”
“The spirit of the game notion has been pronounced dead in the game many times before, but Kohli – a law unto himself – would appear to have killed it off once again with his behaviour some of the worst by an international captain since villainous Sri Lankan leader Arjuna Ranatunga.”