31-year old Virat Kohli has been the captain of the Indian cricket team for the last six years. He is one of the most highly rated players in international cricket and has witnessed virtually all the highs and lows of the sport.
Nick Kyrgios is an Australian tennis sensation, all of 25 years old. He doesn't have a major title to his name yet. But he is one of the select few to have beaten the legendary trio of Roger Federer (2015 Madrid), Rafael Nadal (2014 Wimbledon) and Novak Djokovic (2017 Acapulco) in his very first encounter with each player.
The question you might ask is: what is common between Virat Kohli and Nick Kyrgios? Well, each man is one of the most recognised players in their respective sport. They are not only among the most talented, but also among the most hot-tempered men in the sporting world. They wear their emotions on their sleeves, which make both of them great box-office material.
If you look for the most searched and sought-after athletes in the world during the previous decade, you are very likely to come across the names of Virat Kohli and Nick Kyrgios.
Their sporting achievements are primarily why people know about them, without a doubt. Virat Kohli has drawn parallels with the best players to have graced the game of cricket. Many fans believe that Nick Kyrgios could be the next Federer, if only he learns to control his anger the way the Swiss maestro did early in his career.
Now let us compare Virat Kohli and Nick Kyrgios on the basis of not only their achievements in their respective sport but also on their on-field/on-court conduct.
Since their sports are different, we will attempt to make the comparison between Virat Kohli and Nick Kyrgios on the basis of three parameters: their conduct with opponents, umpires/referees and the press and the crowd. This article does not make any personal remarks on the two athletes.
Three interesting similarities between Virat Kohli and Nick Kyrgios:
#1: Conduct with opponents
Well, let's start talk about Virat Kohli first.
In a press conference during India's tour of Australia in 2014-15, Virat Kohli - who had an on-field argument with Australian speedster Mitchell Johnson, said that he had no respect for anyone who disrespected him. He also said that he loved playing in Australia, and he knew that the Aussies couldn't stay shut for long.
Before the start of Australia's return tour two years later, Virat Kohli said that he was good friends with the Aussies off the field. At the end of that series, he said he was wrong to have said anything which might have been construed otherwise.
However, Virat Kohli's list of on-field altercations is long. He has had verbal tiffs with players like his statemate and compatriot Gautam Gambhir, Kesrick Williams, Rubel Hossain among others.
But the unpredictable guy that Virat Kohli is, he has shown sportsmanship at times as well. There are numerous instances in this regard.
He presented Mohammad Amir with a bat after the latter's return post his match fixing ban. He also urged the crowd to stop booing Steve Smith - who was returning from a ball-tampering ban - during the India-Australia World Cup clash last year.
Virat Kohli's on-field behaviour with fellow players does have parallels with that of the combustible Nick Kyrgios.
Unlike in cricket, tennis does not present as many opportunities to engage in banter with opponents. However, Kyrgios does find such avenues and does not believe in holding his feelings back either.
Be it his aim at Rafael Nadal's chest during their match at last year's Wimbledon, his comments on Stanislas Wawrinka's girlfriend or his tirade at Novak Djokovic, Nick Kyrgios has had moments when he managed to rile his opponents.
However, very few people talk about Nick Kyrgios' sportsmanship. He encouraged a challenge during his 2018 Australian Open match with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga when the line umpire called Tsonga's backhand pass landing out of the baseline.
Shoaib Aktar - arguably the fastest bowler in cricket - confessed he felt like 'killing the batsman' with the ball in his hand. Virat Kohli and Nick Kyrgios are similarly aggressive as well, albeit with one noticeable difference.
While on-field altercations with opposition players and sledging usually gets the best out of Virat Kohli, Nick Kyrgios, on the other hand, usually suffers a downward spiral at the end of such instances.
#2: Conduct with umpires/referees
Ever since Virat Kohli became captain, he has been quite critical of poor decision-making by the umpires.
Whether it was standing up for his bowlers during a T20 between India and Australia in 2018, or his complaint to the umpire for not calling a no-ball - a decision that sealed the fate of a match between his franchise team RCB and Mumbai Indians during last year's IPL, Virat Kohli has been very expressive on the field.
Similarly, Nick Kyrgios has also had such discussions or arguments with umpires. Well, his 'conversations' with umpires have been quite animated at times, and he has been fined or docked points on numerous such occasions. He has gone on to call umpires biased, refused to listen to their explanations and has been accused of hurling abuses at them and being disrespectful.
There is, however, a major difference between Virat Kohli and Nick Kyrgios' altercations or 'protests' with umpires. Whereas Virat Kohli prefers to quickly move on after such interactions, Nick Kyrgios is intent on 'settling' the issue - which is impossible at times - before moving on.
Nick Kyrgios' altercations, unlike Virat Kohli's, do get amplified because of the presence of on-field / on-court microphones. We seldom know what Virat Kohli says when he is far from the stump mic.
Since a tennis court is smaller than a cricket field, Nick Kyrgios is easily audible to millions of viewers - both courtside and on television - thanks to the presence of numerous television cameras in close vicinity. Thus the smallest of his altercations are often heard very loudly and clearly.
#3: Conduct with the press and the crowd
Showing his middle finger to the Australian crowd to quarelling with a local during an IPL match, dancing to Anil Kapoor's songs during a World T20 semifinal to urging a lacklustre Test crowd to cheer up, Virat Kohli has proved to as accessible to the crowd as a cricketer could be.
Similarly, Nick Kyrgios has also had several run-ins with fans; he once asked a fan why he was wasting his Sunday night watching Kyrgios play.
Virat Kohli is a no-nonsense person when it comes to press conferences. In fact, he was once accused of abusing a journalist during the 2015 World Cup in Australia. And just like Virat Kohli, Nick Kyrgios also has a penchant of arguing with the media during press conferences.
However, both the atheletes have done a lot of humanitarian work, which is less talked about.
Virat Kohli has donated several times to charities and humanitarian causes and has taken special interest in helping underprivileged kids and senior citizens.
Nick Kyrgios has also done his bit in this regard. He delivered food to hungry people in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and helped raise money for those affected by damaging bushfires during the Australian summer.
With so many similarities between their on-field and of-field personas, it would be interesting to see Virat Kohli and Nick Kyrgios together in action, in an exhibition football, badminton, or perhaps an Aussie Rules game in Australia, which would be a dream experience for fans to behold.Published 17 Aug 2020, 22:15 IST