Indian captain Virat Kohli said that he was surprised after the ICC decided to confer him with the Spirit of Cricket Award after “years of being under the scanner for the wrong things”, referring to his past flare-ups.
Kohli, who won the award on Wednesday, was honoured for his gesture at the 2019 World Cup, when he egged the crowd on to support and not boo Australia’s Steve Smith after his return to international cricket from a one-year suspension for ball-tampering.
“I’m surprised that I have got it, after many years of being under the scanner for the wrong things,” Kohli said in a statement issued by the ICC.
Speaking at an event in Mumbai on Wednesday, Kohli also said that people should avoid being too judgemental.
“Sometimes we are too judgemental of someone in their early years and that’s exactly what I don’t want the younger players in the team to face. Everyone should be given space to realise themselves and who they are,” Kohli said.
Explaining his decision to back Smith, the 31-year-old remarked that he is strictly against booing.
The ICC 2019 awardees give their reactions to the awards.
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 15, 2020
“That moment was purely understanding an individual’s situation. I don’t think a guy who is coming out of a situation like that needs to be taken advantage of.”
“That should not be a representation of our fans and what we stand as a cricketing nation, a sporting nation.
“We need to all take responsibility towards that. Intimidate the opposition, definitely try and have an upper hand but in a matter that is not targeting someone emotionally.
Meanwhile, India’s limited overs vice-captain Rohit Sharma also expressed gratitude after he was named as ICC’s cricketer of the year. “Feels great to be recognized and we are happy as a team with what we achieved in 2019,” Sharma said.