EXCLUSIVE Cricket

Virat Kohli bats for gender equity, respect for women

Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli has condemned the ill-treatment of women in our society, which he said has always treated them as inferiors.

Not known to speak on matters other than cricket, Kohli for the first time spoke about his social concerns in an exclusive interview to The Hindu at his Gurgaon home on Thursday.

The incidents of rapes, murders and attacks on senior citizens, are extremely disturbing, says Kohli.

“It has obviously been a major concern for a long time, especially rapes, molestations and eve-teasing. It is very disrespectful to look at women in that way.”

The root of the problem, he says, lies in the way we treat women.

“It comes from the kind of society that we have built over the years where women have always been known to be treated as inferiors. How can this be done? This mentality is disturbing and needs to be condemned.”

Virat Kohli is a man of multiple hues. Fine batsman, aggressive captain, expressive individual and above all a young man carving his own legacy.

In this first part of an exhaustive interview, Kohli lays bare his emotions, does a self-appraisal and throws light on what makes him tick as a person and as a cricketer.

Excerpts.

How much do you value the game’s history?

I value it a lot. You get to know how cricket has evolved and what the challenges were for the players from the previous generations. You got to learn from it. You have to appreciate the runs and the centuries and the wickets they took in their times.

When you think of times when there were no helmets, no thigh guards, very average leg guards, and to face that kind of speed on pitches that were not properly prepared, I think you then learn to appreciate more.

Do you challenge yourself in the middle?

Yes. I always challenge myself. I always judge myself upon my own performances rather than thinking about someone else judging me. That keeps me motivated to go out there and score as many runs as possible. That is why every time I get out I get very disappointed.

I have set a certain bar for myself. And I back myself to perform every time I step onto the field and try and make sure that the team wins.

Do you blame yourself for the team’s failure because you are the captain?

Not just because I am the captain now. There have been lot of instances when I have spoken to sir (coach Raj Kumar Sharma) also. And I have told him we have lost because of me.

I remember a T20 game in England. It was the last game of the tour. I got 70 odd runs but I played a pull shot and I got out. As soon as I got out I felt that the game was going to be dicey. Eventually we lost that game. A number of times I have sat down and blamed myself and colleagues have told me not to be hard on myself.

Why do you look so angry on the field?

My simple answer is I play to win. I do joke around on the field but not all the time. Now that I am the captain I can’t be fooling around. I am always intense on the field. That is the reason why it comes across to people I am angry but I am not. I do get angry but not all the time.

Do you believe you have evolved as a batsman?

I feel I have. I can vouch for that in the one-day format where I have definitely evolved as a batsman. In Test cricket I haven’t reached a stage where I can say I feel like things will run in auto mode. In Test cricket I am still not there yet honestly. I want to go out there and play according to the situation and mould my game. I do that in one-day situation. I have certainly improved as a Test batsman but to get that mindset, I need more time.

Do you dream of playing one shot that you would have seen someone else play?

Oh yes. There is one. By Sachin Tendulkar at Sharjah (in 1998) when he hit Michael Kasprowicz. He hit a six with a straight bat that went onto the cabanas in front of the dressing room. I used to try and emulate that with tennis ball cricket but it used to fly off the bat.

Do you fear anything?

I used to have fear of failure until the England tour last year. After that phase I learnt lot of things. You can’t be attached to anything for life. Be it your friends, family, even children. You can’t be attached to the extent that you can’t let go.

I used to put a lot of pressure on myself. I felt the failures. I learnt a lot. Getting rid of the fear of failure is hard. I did it by not worrying about the result. At times it still creeps in but I am learning to conquer it.

Influence of family?

Big. I am very lucky I am the third child (elders are sister Bhavna and brother Vikas). I never had any pressure on me. My brother had to handle the responsibility of the family. My father (late Prem Kohli) was a very independent man and worked very hard for what he had in life.

Being ignored for the Delhi under-14 squad was shattering for me. You know well how the system works in Delhi. The option was to do someone a favour and get me into the team. That option was presented to my father and was promptly dismissed. Next year I got into the team on my credentials. We have been honest to each other of what we have been doing. My mother (Saroj) never pampered me and never spoke about my cricket. My family support has been priceless.

Your views on the media?

It is important to be ethically right. I feel things get irresponsible at times. Look at the recent series. We have played some good cricket but all that has been written about is the pitch. How the Indian batting is not doing well. Not about how well the bowlers have performed.

Don’t run down your own players. If you want to give space to negativity then don’t expect the players to be nice to you in return. Can you keep writing bad things always? I won’t ask you not to criticise us when we are doing badly but when we play well please say good things also.

How would you like to be remembered?

As someone who made a difference to cricket. This game has given me so much. I must give back something very positive to motivate youngsters to take up this sport.

Get Test cricket back to where it belongs. At the top. I have watched Test cricket at stadiums full of audience. I want to see that happen. If I can finish my Test career with strong friendships with players with whom I have played, it would make me very happy.

(to be concluded)


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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 6:04:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/virat-kohli-bats-for-gender-equity-respect-for-women/article7977389.ece

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