If there is a truism about India, it is that everyone over here seems to have an opinion about politics and cricket. So, one should really treat actor Naseeruddin Shah’s comments on cricketer Virat Kohli’s behaviour as just another Indian cricket fan expressing his/her opinion on sport. Just like the thousands, who shared their opinions on who should form India’s opening pair for the Melbourne Test starting next week, others, mainly Australians, have been commenting on Kohli’s aggressive, take no prisoners captaincy style. The irony that those who have been watching cricket for a few years feel about the new ‘woke’ Australian cricket team is palpable. Australian teams defined the aggressive and nasty cricketers on the field between the eras of Allan Border to Steve Smith. It appears after they were caught cheating in South Africa and with Smith and David Warner banished to the wilderness at least temporarily, this new Australian side is on a public relations spree to be likeable. But let us be honest, Kohli doesn’t need to go on a PR campaign, he lets his bat and captaincy do the talking. While he is a bit lippy on the field, he is a perfectly decent bloke off the field and doesn’t need Anushka Sharma’s certificate for that — anyone who has interacted with him will testify to his politeness off the field. And that was the same about most Australian cricketers of the past. Steve Waugh, who was never short of a snarky comment on the field, is a humanitarian for example.
That said, while we should be proud that Virat Kohli wears his heart on his sleeve and has the Indian flag in his heart when playing for the country, he should not forget that as the Captain of the Indian men’s cricket team, he is possibly the most influential individual in the nation. There are millions of impressionable young children looking up to him and they might not have the degree of self-control that Kohli has to keep his on-field and off-field personae separate. And in an age of multiple cameras and powerful microphones, it might not be a bad idea to control his aggression. But if it is his aggressive nature on the field and pitch that will help us finally conquer Indian cricket’s ‘final frontier’ (to borrow the term from Waugh) and win a test series down under, it is worth it. Let’s be honest, despite their performance in the recently concluded Test in Perth, this is the weakest Australian cricket team for three decades and India has never had such an opportunity. Let us not lose sight of the big picture and take a cricket fan’s opinion too seriously.
Writer & Courtesy: The pioneer