Why the Indian cricketing fraternity should stand behind their skipper
The Indian Cricket Team had just completed one of it’s most successful home season and a proud Indian captain was addressing the media in the post-match conference.
The captain spoke about many good things. He was happy that his replacement had led the side well in the last test which he had missed due to a shoulder injury.
He went on to acknowledge the role of the support staff and told that 40% contribution of the victory was from the support staff. Like any other captain his priority was winning matches overseas. The captain said people can expect a broader smile on his face when the team wins overseas.
“No it has changed”
But in spite of these words, the statement that made the headlines was, “No, it has changed. I thought that was the case, but it has changed for sure. As I said, in the heat of the battle you want to be competitive but I’ve been proven wrong. The thing I said before the first Test, that has certainly changed and you won’t hear me say that ever again.”
The “thing” in the above line refers to Indian captain Virat Kohli’s friendship with the Australian players. At the beginning of the series, Kohli had said that he was friends with many Australian cricketers but as per him the equation had changed now. As with any other debate, people started taking sides.
Kohli was slammed by most ex-cricketers
Most of the people slammed Kohli for this statement. Australian coach Darren Lehman said that he found it disappointing. Ex-England player David Llyod also questioned the wisdom of Kohli’s comments and felt that the Indian captain needed lessons from Sachin Tendulkar on how to conduct oneself on & off the field.
Incidentally, the same David Llyod who is today not shying away from giving his wisdom on conduct on & off the field had once called Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan a “chucker”. Llyod had also stirred up controversy in Zimbabwe when as England’s coach he had famously said, “We murdered them”.
“My answer at the post-match conference has been blown way out of proportion”
Coming back to Kohli’s statement, such was the uproar that Kohli himself had to issue a clarification. In a tweet, he said, “My answer at the post-match conference has been blown way out of proportion. I did not categorically say the whole Australian team but only a couple of individuals.I continue to be in good terms with the few guys I know & who I've played with at RCB & that doesn't change.”
And truly, his statement was simply blown out of proportion and he was well within his rights to show his disappointment for the manner in which he was targeted throughout the series.
Few stars have the courage of calling a spade a spade
Now critics would say that an international captain and a great player like Kohli should not have made such a statement. However, few stars have the courage of calling a spade a spade and Virat is one of them.
Also, over the past few years; the landscape of world cricket has completely changed. Traditionally, the Indian cricketers have not been known to give it back to the opposition. For years, Indians cricketers have been the silent recipients of sledging from teams like Australia.
An Indian team which is no longer a mute spectator
It was probably during the era of Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy that the Indians started replying back to the rants of the opponents. And Kohli’s team is just following the path set by Ganguly.
As Kohli said, “This team, regardless of whether we are on top or not, we speak. We take it very well and we give it back even better”.
It is believed that the right time to give it back is when you are at the top and the Indian team is definitely at the zenith.
Indian cricketing fraternity should stand behind their skipper
Here was a person who had been hurt by the actions of the opponent team and instead of giving politically correct statements, he was speaking his heart out. The least that he could have asked for was support from his countrymen.
Instead, we make a villain out of him and crucify him for his honest statements. Mind you, he is no diplomat; but a sportsperson and a highly successful one. And sportspersons do show emotions once in a while.
I am not for a moment advocating sledging (although in my humble opinion a bit of it adds spice to sporting encounters) and totally agree with Harsha Bhogle’s comment that, “aggression is a positive state of mind, not a puerile war of words”.
But at this juncture, the entire Indian cricketing fraternity including the fans should not be critical of their captain. With the IPL starting in a week’s time, all this might be forgotten when the Indian players share dressing rooms with their Australian counterparts.
And the focus would shift to the action on the 22 yards. Till then we should just savour one of the best home seasons ever in the history of Indian cricket.