India’s Test captain Virat Kohli is unhappy that some of the former international cricketers have run down the team despite their comprehensive 3-0 win against South Africa in the recently concluded Test series.
Kohli is “hurt” that some of the former players, who have not even played for the country, give their opinion on international cricketers.
With Mohali and Nagpur Test matches on spin-friendly tracks ending inside three days, Kohli is certainly not amused with the kind of response he has got from former players, who have now become media pundits.
“It obviously hurts when people who have played the game themselves make such comments. I am not saying all of them do it. Some of them understand the mindset of the players, having gone through similar situations in their careers. They lend you support, say the right thing and even help you with certain technicalities. But some people like to focus on the negatives. It feels bad as an Indian cricketer,” Kohli told ‘BCCI.TV’.
Kohli also agreed that the public perception is affected by what they continously read or hear in the media.
“It does (get affected). People who have the power to speak up in the media, go out and criticise a player after just two innings, saying he is out of form or has a deficiency in his technique. You go to Australia or other countries, they keep showing a player’s past good performances and talk about how good he is even when he is not in form. It helps the player gain confidence as well. It shows him that the whole system supports him. That’s what we don’t get,” Kohli said.
“This has been a pattern over the years in India – players are criticised unnecessarily. When you lose, it’s fine, but here, even when we are winning, they find new ways to criticise the team. It is completely bizarre,” he added.
Kohli, 27, showed enough maturity in leading a young side and the the top-order batsman did not forget to praise the afforts of the team in his early success.
“One advantage of having a young side where everyone is building their careers is that you can expect them to be on the same level, whether it is intensity wise or when following a plan is concerned. We are all still learning and figuring out the best way for us to perform.
“At this juncture, the team is really bonding well together, staying really tight, ignoring the negativity that floats around and focusing on the skills and taking control. This team reflects the mindset of the current generation of Indian cricketers. We want to go out there, be aggressive, make things happen rather than wait for them to happen.”
“The whole team plays with the same attitude – someone who is not naturally aggressive as a player, is making a conscious effort to be positive in his approach. That is why we have been able to win two series and not two odd Test matches,” he said.
In a series dominated by bowlers, premier off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin ended with 31 wickets in four matches, while Ravindra Jadeja contributed with 23 scalps in as many games. Kohli, who is known to back his bowlers, stressed on the importance of giving confidence to the bowlers.
“It is very important to give confidence to the bowlers. We have told the bowlers that they are the bosses and they will dictate terms in Test cricket. And we want each bowler to think, ‘I am going to win the match for India’. Batsmen will contribute at some stage, but it is up to the bowlers to take responsibility and feel like match-winners.
“In all the other teams their bowlers are looked after very well. You can see the captains giving them confidence, knowing that this guy is going to do the job for him. As an opposition batsman you feel like you are getting nothing from that bowler.
“It feels nice when our bowlers go out there and dominate; bowling with pace or spinning the ball, and troubling the opposition batsman. We want to make it as difficult for other team’s batsmen to score and survive as it is for us,” he said.
Kohli also singled out Ishant Sharma and Ashwin for their efforts in the series.
“I am very pleased to see Ishant taking up the role of the leader of the pace attack, and he is actually feeling like one. With the kind of experience he has under his belt, it is important for him to guide the other guys. It is important that others grow in his presence. And he is bowling beautifully.
“The way he bowled in Sri Lanka, I have never seen him bowl like that since his first tour of Australia (in 2008). He has got his confidence back. Even in this series, he knew he did his job for the team by putting in those maidens and creating pressure.
“Ashwin has always been a champion bowler. I keep picking his brain on the field. In difficult situations, I keep asking him what should be done. He gives me proper insight. As a captain, you need a few people like that around. You cannot possibly think of everything at all times. Ashwin, Ajinkya, Ishant, Rohit – I keep speaking to these guys because they think about the game and analyse what’s going on in the field,” he said.
He did pull back any punches while being critical of these former stars without naming anyone.
“Growing up, you have looked up to these people and when you hear such comments from them you lose a bit of respect for them. It would be more respectful of them to come up and speak to a player individually if they feel there is some flaw that
needs to be corrected,” the skipper was forthright with what he felt about the comments.
While he still respects those who have played for the country, Kohli found it difficult to fathom as to how some former first-class cricketers who never played for the country made adverse remarks.
“And someone who hasn’t played for the country has no right in anyway to comment on an international cricketer. I don’t think that has any kind of logic. You cannot sit there and say how you would have done something differently when you have not been in that situation yourself and don’t have the mindset of a cricketer,” Kohli, who won his second successive series as captain after the Sri Lanka triumph, said.
As he has often repeated at media conferences, Kohli again expressed his displeasure at how the team has not been given their due credit despite such a handsome series win.
“It is a pity. The series happened in our country and our own people are looking for weaknesses and areas of criticism, and not speaking enough about the kind of good cricket we played. They have been talking about the pitches and how that has been a factor,” Kohli said.
“In this series, four of the top five run-getters were Indians. Top two wicket-takers were Indians. We have had no excuses, we played honest cricket and we got the results in our favour. We are proud of what we have done and how we have played,” he added.