India captain Virat Kohli received the Sir Garfield Sobers Award for ICC Male Cricketer of the Decade along with the ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Decade.
Kohli’s phenomenal performance in the last 10 years has seen him scale new peaks in all three formats. Such has been his impact and consistency, that the run-machine from India averages 50 or more in all three formats of the game.
Virat Kohli's career batting stats
Kohli shared his thoughts on winning the ICC awards in an interview with BCCI.TV:
What moments from the past decade do you hold closest to your heart?
Firstly, it’s a great honour for me to receive this award. The moments I hold closest to my heart in the last decade definitely have to be the World Cup win in 2011, the Champions Trophy win in 2013 and winning the series in Australia in 2018. Apart from that also there have been some very special games for Team India in the last decade, and for me personally as well. I would not want to mention my personal knocks so much because then I will need to rate them, and I don’t like doing that. For me, every game played for India is as important and as crucial. It has just been an honour for me to go out there and perform for my team and for my country and it is a great honour for me to win this award.
As a batsman, how do you maintain this tremendous consistency over a decade?
Well, if you focus on consistency alone, then I don’t think you can be as consistent. If your endeavour is to make sure that you step on the field to make your team win at any cost, in that mindset you will perform beyond your limitations and your own abilities. That has always been my mindset; give my heart and soul on the field for my team and make sure that as a team, we are always moving forward in the right direction whether we get the results or not. It’s the mindset that you take onto the field and that helps you be consistent in all formats of the game for a long period of time because you are looking forward to making sure that you make some impact for the team every time you step onto the field. Whether it is a contribution of 40, 50, 60 a hundred or a double hundred whatever it is. My endeavour is to always bat for as long as I can and put the team in winning positions.
You are one of the few cricketers who plays all three formats at the top level. How do you deal with the challenges of playing and excelling in all three formats?
It is definitely a challenging thing to do, but I like to base my cricket on the basics of the game. I have always been very firm with the fact that I want to play good cricketing shots and I want to extend and continue the same application in different formats. It helps me to switch very quickly between formats because I don’t try anything extravagant on the field.
I believe in my abilities to play good cricketing shots and score runs in all three formats of the game. So, that helps me to cut down the errors and then it just becomes mental adjustment of being aggressive in ODIs with the balance of rotating strike and being patient for a bit more aggressive in the T20 game and rotating the strike becomes even more crucial.
Test cricket is just about being patient and showing resilience and still believing in those same cricketing shots to get you runs. I think it is just the adjustment of the tempo of the game and what the demands of every format are. As I said, if you are willing and open to play for the team at all costs, the situation defines how you need to play and I adjust accordingly and I look at the situation and play accordingly.
Who have your greatest adversaries been, as a batsman? What battles have you relished the most?
I have relished all the battles in the last decade. Playing at the international level is never easy regardless of who you play against. I have played against some great bowlers in the past and continue to play some quality bowlers even today. I have enjoyed all the challenges because in different situations of the game, as I mentioned earlier, you face different challenges and I take a lot of pride in competing against the best and testing myself out against the best in conditions that are not ours, in situations that are tough. It is only when you strive for something which is seeming tough or looking tough, you find a lot of things about yourself and your true character is revealed.
I had some hardships along the way, but I am always keen to learn and just progress forward and work hard on my game. I truly respect every challenge and enjoy it and I respect my opponents as well and I continue to do that. I relish every challenge that comes my way.
What are your cricketing goals for the next decade?
Nothing is going to change for me from the time I came into the team and I got the opportunity to play for India. My mindset has always been the same and it will continue to be the same. Now the responsibility is way more than it used to be. My endeavour is to always make sure that as a team we are heading in the right direction, set the right culture, not just for this team but for generations to come so that the standard of Indian Cricket stays high and it is maintained at the highest level. For that, you need proper commitment to play for the team, play hard for the team. You have to work on your fitness, on your skills; it has to be a proper commitment and it that’s the culture I hope to instil in the younger guys coming through now and the generations to follow so that Indian Cricket stays at the top for years to come.
Finally, how does it feel to be recognized as the best among your contemporaries?
Well, I feel it is a by-product of persevering with the mindset and of doing everything possible in your ability for the team. It is just not with batting. It is about how you work off the field. How do you work on your fitness? How you work on your fielding skills. How you persevere day in and day out. How your routine and your whole system is designed around being the best version of yourself and the team every time you step onto the field. So you can provide in many different aspects of the game and that has always been my mindset.
I have never strived to be better than everybody else. I have just tried to be the best version of myself. I am just glad. I am proud to receive this award because I know the number of quality players, who played in the last decade and what they bring to international cricket as well. It is not a sense of feeling superior to anyone for me. I feel like this is a recognition of perseverance and the hard work I have put in the last 10 years and will continue to do so in the future as well.
Watch Virat Kohli talk about winning the ICC awards: