We constantly hear that sport is now a business or entertainment.
And while as purists we want to believe that we watch sport for the contest, the reality is different.
Virat Kohli is the villain that Australia’s summer of cricket needed. Here is a person who has galvanised the Australian fans behind the Aussie team. With Steve Smith and David Warner out, and the general disappointment around the ball tampering scandal, this is what we needed.
So when Kohli hits a hundred in Perth and then signals he’ll let his bat do the talking, that was perfect. He could’ve raised his bat normally and everyone says ‘great captains knock’. But now the comments are about his need to show more respect.
He only enhanced his reputation as public enemy number one. Which from my point of view is perfect. It brings interest to the rest of the series.
What we don’t see is how Kohli is revered in India. They love him. The same way we loved Smith and Warner. And yet they both were probably only loved in Australia. The perception of them overseas was different to how we viewed them.
And yet, even though Australia were struggling in a rebuilding phase they still got the biggest crowds overseas. Why? Well, consider what happened in the ball tampering saga…the crowd turned up in Sonny Bill Williams masks (why this has not been addressed as a complete personal attack and a contributing factor to the entire incident is beyond me).
The South African crowd didn’t do it because they thought Warner was lovable rouge, they thought of him as the bad guy.
It’s classic sports entertainment. Anthony Mundine said he did the same thing. He didn’t care if you paid to see him get knocked out, he only cared if your backside was on the seat. And he made millions for over a decade by being public enemy number one.
To use pro wrestling parlance, it’s the heel versus the face. The heel uses all the dirty tricks in the book to win and face always wins clean. Even if the face pokes the heel in the eye, we cheer. Why? Because he’s the good guy and we think the heel deserved it, which is something that should be considered in the ball tampering situation. If I was attacked in such a personal way like Dave Warner was I would’ve done more than just do ball tampering to the cricket ball. The only difference is that it happened while most of Australia was asleep and so we never saw the entire context of the series.
The point is that the judgement on who the villain and hero are is a matter of perceptive.
This is not a new thing. It’s the white knight against the evil king. In this case, King Kohli (and Cricket Australia must be happy he is here).