It is said that an individual becomes a completely different person when he enters the field as a player. But what do you understand of a person who is a different player as a batsman and a completely different person as a fielder?
In the toughest of situations, Virat Kohli plays with grit when close-in fielders are busy sledging him. His body language at the crease must be frustrating for those who want to distract him. Not even once has he got involved with any of them in counter-sledging as a batsman. But what happens to this concentration as a fielder?
Nothing that Gautam Gambhir did was severe enough for Kohli to charge at him. But at the Wankhede stadium he seemed to be naïve in handling crowd behaviour.
The more one reacts to the partisan crowd, the more they will get after you. Some like Gavaskar and Tendulkar didn’t react when they were booed at the Wankhede stadium and they are Mumbai players. The crowd is a strange set. One has to realise that it is stars they strongly react to. Even in the case of the Ambati Rayudu run out, the crowd spared Vinay Kumar because he isn’t a star.
When Shoaib Akhtar the bowler unknowingly blocked Tendulkar, it was Akhtar who invited the wrath of the crowd and not the fielder who threw down the stumps.
Kohli is the most entertaining cricketer a crowd can hope for because he constantly reacts to them and the crowd loves it. They laugh while booing, it’s fun for them.
To have a confrontation with a bowler in the middle of a tight match is one thing and to incite the crowd is another. Cricket is a spectators game after all. They pay to get entertained and sadly booing is a part of entertainment. Unless the ICC acts tough by setting up cameras in the stands, the boorish behaviour will continue. Modern players don’t take it seriously unless they are physically challenged or abused as it happened with Inzamam-ul-Haq.
Kohli must realise that captaining a national team is not just about cricketing genius. Though he was tactically brilliant, Shane Warne didn’t lead Australia.
Half a century ago, captains were chosen not only on their capability to lead but on how good they were in addressing the elite audience after dinner. A majority of players were educated and they enjoyed the game. To them the spirit of the game mattered. The modern generation of cricketers are not even aware of the spirit of the game.
Former England fast bowler Frank Tyson was known to recite Shakespeare while walking back to the top of the run-up. In fact he later taught French in a Melbourne school for more than two decades.
Cricket is no longer the white-collar game it used to be. But however much cricket has changed to become the boom-boom game, it isn’t so rough for any player to misbehave.
BCCI has now recommended Kohli for the prestigious Arjuna award. If Kohli is a captain BCCI wants to promote, it should look towards having a quiet word with him the way Cricket Australia did in the case of Ricky Ponting more than a decade ago.