What makes Virat Kohli angry?

Current as well as ex-cricketers have often complained about the media - that it presents the cricketers in extremes. Is the complaint justified?

WrittenBy:Martand Jha
Article image

The three-match Test series between India and South Africa is over. A lot happened on the field with many highs and lows, which is business as usual. However, some noteworthy and worrying things happened off the field as well. Noteworthy, because it happened in full media glare — in front of cameras — and worrying because the Indian captain seemed a bit grouchy while addressing the press conferences during the Test series which India lost, 2-1.

Current as well as ex-cricketers have often complained about the media — that they present the cricketers in extremes. If the team wins, media turns them into ‘heroes’ as they talk about their spectacular performances on the field, while when the team performs poorly and loses, the same media starts criticising the team and individual players quite harshly.

The question to be asked is — Is this complaint justified? Isn’t asking hard and straight-forward questions, the job of a good journalist? This is exactly what was being done by journalists in South Africa when they put forward tough questions to the Indian captain Virat Kohli after India had gone down 2-0 in the series and had lost the series even before the third Test match had started.

A journalist asked Kohli about whether India’s defeats in the first two Test matches could be attributed to  an improper team selection and secondly, whether the decision of chopping and changing the side continuously had led to the Indian team’s defeat. The question was put forward in the context of Ajinkya Rahane’s non-inclusion in the first two Test matches and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s non-inclusion in the second Test match despite him being the highest Indian wicket-taker in the first Test.

Kohli almost lost his temper as he began counter-questioning the journalist. To the question of whether different results could be expected with continuous changes in the team formation, Virat had a terse answer. He asked the journalist sarcastically as to how many matches had the Indian team won after making changes to the side regularly. Then he went on to answer the question himself — that till now India had won 21 matches and lost just 2 matches despite this strategy of making changes to the Indian side.

The journalist pointed towards the fact that not many of these victories have come in India, to which Virat Kohli said it doesn’t matter where the team is playing and wherever they play, they try to do their best. The argument ended with Virat saying, “I am here to answer your questions, not fight with you.”

Now, if one looks at this whole episode neutrally, was the journalist wrong in asking these questions? Where did the question of fight arise, a journalist has no personal animosity against players. Had the journalist not asked tough questions, which he/she is supposed to ask, he is not doing the job properly. That is the difference between a public relations person and a journalist. PR people always show the best side of any product, while a journalist is one who puts the bad and the ugly in front of the public.

If tough questions make Kohli uncomfortable, where he needs to own up to the mistakes in his decisions, then that’s a sign of an authoritarian attitude. This is because centralised authorities, in any walk of life, dislike being put under scanner. No doubt, Virat Kohli is a world class player and an absolute champion but he is increasingly becoming a very powerful person within the team. To a point where there seems to exist a huge power gap between him and other members of his team.

Everyone was raising questions about how come a player such as Ajinkya Rahane, who is India’s best batsman outside Asia, could be dropped along with Kumar, who is India’s frontline bowler. Kohli’s answer was that the team is selected as per the conditions. So, would Kohli dare to drop himself from a match if conditions are not suited for him?

The answer is no. In this case, Rahane was not only a player but the vice-captain of the team who was dropped from two out of three matches. In the third Test, Rahane and Kumar’s comeback had a significant role to play in India’s victory. All the questions which were raised were not distasteful. Being the captain, Kohli is not just answerable but should also be expected to own up to his mistakes publicly.

As much as cricket is a sport, it is also a form of entertainment with a huge public following. Whatever Kohli says about not listening to what people outside say, but even he knows in the heart of his heart that it was a big mistake to not include Kumar and Rahane in the second Test match. He is just not ready to own up to his mistakes. What Kohli and others need to understand is that to analyse and understand the basics of a game, one doesn’t need to have played an international match necessarily. That is a pretty non-sensical challenge to be thrown at journalists or even fans who ask tough questions and demand answers.

It is good that the Indian team has been victorious finally, ending their dry run outside Asia. But victory shouldn’t make people arrogant, rather it should make people more humble. When people criticise the Indian team for performing badly, it is not because of any personal rivalry. Everyone wants the betterment of Indian cricket. If Mr Kohli still thinks that he is right in arguing with journalists in a rather unpleasant tone, he should just look into the condition of other sports in India, where nobody even bothers to ask questions.

It is because people value Indian cricket, that’s why they ask tough questions. The day people stop doing that the condition of cricket would go down as any other sport in the country.


We take comments from subscribers only!  Subscribe now to post comments! 
Already a subscriber?  Login

You may also like