What’s the story?
Rarely has a cricketer polarized opinion while commanding respect from all corners as India’s skipper Virat Kohli has in the recent past. At the conclusion of a fiery series against arch-rivals Australia, he came up trumps, not with the bat, but as the leader of a great team.
It was a great victory for him but his off-field comments after the series caught the eye of a number of Australian cricketers, past and present, who have weighed in with their opinion.
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Ed Cowan, who debuted for Australia against India at the Boxing Day Test in 2011, recalled an incident from the past where he got into a tussle with Kohli. The 34-year-old claims that the Indian skipper pushed him to a point where he felt like stabbing him with a stump.
While speaking to Fox Sports, Cowan said, “I had a very sick Mum during one of those series and he said something that was inappropriate. A personal matter that was highly sensitive. Highly inappropriate. But he didn't realise that he'd overstepped the mark until the umpire came over and said 'Virat that's overstepped the mark' and once that was said, he took a step back and apologised. But, there was a moment I wanted to pick up the stump and stab him”
Around the time that he debuted for Australia, he was fighting a losing battle back home. Ed’s family was in crisis as his mother was in an unstable condition. He described the condition as a ‘cross between Parkinson's and motor neurone disease’. It had crippled the family but his mom was also his strength and thus he would enter the cricket field very emotionally charged at that time.
Cricketers tend to have a go at each other during a match. Especially in Test matches, where battles are won even in the mind over 5 days of war, there is plenty that is said by all the parties involved.
At 28, Kohli is now a very mature and responsible version of the brash 22-year-old that he was back then. He wore his heart on his sleeve and often would be involved in skirmishes during the games.
Cowan did speak of his respect for the Indian skipper as a player. He said, “I'm a huge fan of his cricket. Don't get me wrong he's a phenomenal cricketer."I had a little bit of a run-in that was inappropriate when he toured Australia and the umpire had to intervene.”
Parallels from history
One of the most iconic moments in sports history, when France’s Zinedine Zidance headbutted Italy’s Marco Materrazi during the 2006 World Cup final was caused because the Italian had made an unsavoury comment about the former’s sister.
While nothing untoward happened in the Cowan-Kohli incident, these matters about family can escalate quickly.
It is tough to feel anything but sympathy for the Australian who was obviously going through a very hard phase of his life. With that said, there have been plenty of instances when Kohli must have felt the same kind of feeling towards the Australians.
It is a credit to the umpire that he stepped in at the right time and intervened.