India captain Virat Kohli has reacted angrily to ongoing debates around the pitch in Ahmedabad, blaming England’s two-day defeat in the third Test solely on “a bizarre display of batting”.
Virat Kohli has been on a destructive path to the coveted status of Australian cricket’s public enemy No.1. Only players of the highest ilk ever get there, and it usually bodes well for their cricketing prowess.
We can only guess what being a Test cricketer, let alone captain, in India is like. I imagine it’s a pressure cooker similar to that of a Holden Commodore that’s travelled eight hours, full of five blokes and twelve poorly hidden cartons, approaching a four-day festival car search point. The stakes are seriously high.
Kohli, the leader of a previously indestructible Indian cricket team is under 1.2 billion crazed cricket fans worth of pressure, is not performing and is running his mouth.
From on-field antics and general carry-on resembling that of a spoilt 12-year-old, to temper tantrums when given out and taking home souvenir stumps after a win in which he contributed almost nothing to his team’s score, he’s given us a smorgasbord of reasons to despise him (plus he disrespected the great man Ian Healy).
But here comes the kicker: Accusing the Australians of a systematic cheating regime. Tell us how you really feel, Virat.
The Australians have every right to veraciously defend themselves over the ridiculously serious allegations Virat is throwing around like Donald Trump throws around tweets about fake news.
But if recent history is anything to go by, Steve Smith and co. might want to avoid stoking Kohli’s fire.
Take the most detested Pom of this decade, for example. Stuart Broad found himself in Australian public enemy No.1 territory after the first Ashes Test in 2013, during which he smashed one to second slip and stayed put at the crease when we were out of reviews.
Broad took a lazy three wickets in that first Test, but after a verbal barrage and a lecture on the spirit of the game from every Aussie with a Twitter account, he went on to take 19 over the next four matches.
We continued to drag his name through the mud before the return series in Australia. A newspaper refused to name him and a chorus of boos welcomed him every time he went near a cricket pitch.
Despite Australia not losing a Test that series, Broad took 21 wickets and was the best English bowler by a country mile. Their next best wicket-taker was all-rounder Ben Stokes with a miserable 15. By the end of that series we decided to zip our lips.
In a more recent instance this summer, stand-in South African skipper Faf du Plessis gave a rousing rendition of visiting cricket villain that Douglas Jardine would be proud of.
He vehemently denied putting sugar-infused saliva on the ball in the second Test in Hobart despite there being clear video evidence of his index finger making love to a mint, and his security guard hip-and-shouldered a Channel 9 reporter as he arrived at Adelaide airport. The batsman also strutted around in sunglasses at nighttime and chewed said mints at cameras.
Faf’s scores before the mint-fingering debacle were a modest 37, 32 and 7, but the disdain that the Adelaide crowd treated him with lit a fire under the No.4. He made an unbeaten 118 in the final Test that left us red-faced and reluctantly applauding.
Now Kohli, the second-ranked ICC Test batsman behind our Smudge, is having a terrible time with the willow. Scores of 0, 13, 12 and 15 in the first two matches are significantly under par for the prodigious run-machine who averaged 109 against England only a couple of months ago. This giant is well and truly having a snooze.
It may be that he has made a conscious decision to get under Smith and the Aussies’ skin with constant controversial dribble in an attempt to get his own game going. Or maybe he just has an over-inflated sense of self-worth and was never smacked or told no as a toddler.
Whatever the reason, the so-far courageous Aussies may want to try and avoid the confrontation and accusations being shoved in their faces.
We should not even tip toe around this sleeping giant for risk of waking him up. We are in India after all, and there is no giant bigger.