Anyone who wants to whinge about the Indian cricket team’s behaviour in this Test series needs to pipe down, because cricket isn’t meant to be easy.
Before the start of the second Test in Bangalore former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy accused Virat Kohli of disrespecting Australian players. During the match ex-fast bowler Ryan Harris said the Indian skipper was “carrying on like a pork chop” and shortly before the game ended, former ABC broadcaster Adam Spencer said Kohli had “crossed the line from dude to d***head”.
People who agreed with this thinking had even more reason to hate after Kohli’s fiery press conference where he implied Australia cheated throughout the Test by looking to its dressing room for help when deciding whether to review umpires’ calls.
They’ll say he went too far. Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland certainly thought so, labelling Kohli’s allegation “outrageous”.
However, the reality is, whether he knew it or not, Steve Smith cheated. He described it as a “brain fade” and well it may have been, but the Aussie skipper clearly broke the rules. There’s no escaping that fact.
Kohli was completely within his rights to call Smith out for what Merv Hughes described as a final day “meltdown”. That was easily the biggest talking point of the Test and Kohli gave his honest opinion on the matter after the game.
We complain when athletes don’t show enough personality in the media, and now we’re complaining when they’re too honest. Kohli thought Smith cheated, so he went as close to saying Smith cheated without actually saying it.
The 28-year-old believes it happened more than once in the Test (an accusation yet to be proven) and says he told the umpires about it but nothing was done. Granted, that is dangerous territory if there’s no proof, but Kohli believes Australia was attempting to gain an unfair advantage and wants it stopped. As captain, you can’t blame him for that.
NO, THE SLEDGING WASN’T OVER THE TOP
Smith only managed 36 runs for the Test.Source:AFP
Kohli may well be a d***head, but the thing about d***heads in team sports is you love to play with them and hate to play against them.
The fact there are so many guns pointed at Kohli’s head from Australian fans and commentators means he’s doing his job.
Sledging has always been and will always be part of cricket. It may be hurtful, it may be distasteful and it may be derogatory but it’s not illegal. It’s an ugly truth but a truth all the same.
Kohli confronted Steve Smith several times while the Australian leader was batting, getting up in his face. Yes, it’s not a good look for the game and you don’t want an entire generation of kids doing the same, but in that moment, in that match and in this series, Kohli’s job is to win.
Clearly, he believed his team could rattle the Australians by sledging them.
Kohli doesn’t bowl (save for his occasional part-time medium pacers) so he can’t directly limit the damage done by Australia’s best batter — Steve Smith. He can come up with plans and set certain fields but unless he takes the ball himself, his power has a ceiling.
So he does the next best thing he can think of to upset Smith in the hope of getting him out cheaply. He sledges him.
If Kohli believes that’s the best way to distract Smith and create a wicket-taking opportunity for his team, and it’s within the rules, then all power to him.
Former Aussie quick Stuart Clark summed it up perfectly.
“What else are you going to do? Let him (Smith) walk in and score a hundred and walk off and then they win. (No), get into him,” Clark said. “As long as it’s not racial or homophobic or any of that other stuff and it’s into him trying to put him off his game, I don’t particularly have a problem with that.”
Aussie selector Mark Waugh told Fox Sports he believed Kohli’s in-your-face approach rattled Smith.
If Kohli’s sledging in any way contributed to the New South Welshman losing his wicket cheaply in both innings in Bangalore (he scored eight and 28) then the Indian captain helped his team. And isn’t that the captain’s most important job?
KOHLI BEHAVED ‘LIKE A PORK CHOP’? GET OVER IT
Getting the crowd involved.Source:AFP
Kohli’s reaction to Australian wickets falling on that final day were reminiscent of a footballer scoring the winning goal in injury time of a Cup final. It was stuff rarely seen on a cricket field.
He pumped his fists, ran around like a headless chook, roared like a lion and revved up the crowd. Test cricket was alive.
Just because it’s not the norm in cricket, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. All Kohli did was express his passion. His team had been pummelled for a Test-and-a-half but came back and was on top of what previously loomed as an unwinnable game.
Harris’ assertion Kohli “carried on like a pork chop” is probably right. But so what? He had every reason to get carried away.
I loved seeing him beckon the crowd to cheer louder. How often have you seen that before in any form of cricket? In an age where we bemoan the lack of interest in Test matches because T20 is taking over, anything that breathes life back into the longest format should be appreciated.
Kohli might be a complete jerk and tough to stomach from an opposing player’s point of view. But if he’s not breaking any rules, who are we to tell him to stop behaving the way he is?
THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT OF ALL
Importantly, nobody from the Australian camp has complained about anything that’s happened on the field yet.
Internally the players might be fuming at the pitches they’ve played on filthy with Kohli’s behaviour. On the other hand they might put what’s transgressed down to playing tough cricket at the highest level against a world-class side desperate to win.
Either way, publicly the players and coaches have refused to complain. They’re the ones living through the difficulty of an Indian tour and if they’re not whingeing, then why should we?
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Australia built a reputation as the most verbally aggressive team in world cricket. Just Google South Africa captain Graeme Smith’s account of what was said to him when he emerged on the international scene in 2002.
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t promise to play a tough, hard brand of cricket then complain when the opposition does the exact same thing to you.
To the Aussie team’s credit, it hasn’t moaned once. And neither should we.Read More...
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