Not Just a Lesson in Humility

Virat Kohli’s expedition down under began on a rather dour note. After the rather unexpected explosive Diwali he celebrated on his social media set up, reports swirled about the degree to which the Committee of Administrators were not impressed by the Indian captain’s behavior. However, while the admonishment is being hailed in some circles, it has to be remembered there is a bigger agenda at hand.

For all of the Indian skipper’s brashness, his emotional, arrogant, misplaced response to a fan who claimed to enjoy foreign cricketers’ batting more than his was alarming for several reasons. Not only was Kohli’s ‘leave India’ comment out of taste, but it, also, left a concern about the mindset of one of the biggest celebrities in the country. It seemed only appropriate that Kohli was appropriately reined in for that and it is creditworthy that the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) took it upon themselves to have a word with the captain before the team embarked for the tour of Australia.

However, two things had to be kept in mind.

While it was creditable that the captain was asked to keep his tongue in check, the fact that such a sensitive interaction was leaked is a matter of concern. While the captain may have needed a guiding hand to tell him when he was getting out of bounds, perhaps this could have been handled in a far more discretionary manner, particularly with the tour of Australia coming up.

That is the point. The tour of Australia has hardly been an easy ride for any team visiting the country. India have had their stories to tell as well which makes this even more poignant. Some cricketers do thrive on verbal warfare, friendly banter and being riled. Others get rattled. Although Virat Kohli has in the past shown that he can be as much of an unprovoked instigator as much as someone who can compose himself at the crease with the bat in hand irrespective of such sledging, he is no longer the maverick but rather the captain with all the pressure on his shoulders now to not only carry the team as he did in England but also, to produce the overseas results that he and the Indian coach, Ravi Shastri, claimed would happen which it didn’t in South Africa and in England. In the past, Kohli has had his uncomfortable fan moments in Australia and although Australia has been a happy hunting ground in terms of runs, in terms of behavior, Kohli may want to try a different approach.

While it is good to have a captain who can give as good as it gets, Kohli needs to be more mindful about opponents who have been at it for a while and in a volatile situation where it could get out of hand, perhaps needless provocation is what the administrators want to avoid and see restraint from their captain which is a wise thing, particularly on this tour with so much at stake.

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