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Ishant ban: Kohli's boys shouldn't turn into a 'pack of hounds'

columns Updated: Sep 04, 2015 11:39 IST
Pradeep Magazine
Ishant Sharma

Sri Lankan bowler Dhammika Prasad and India's Ishant Sharma exchange words on day four of the third Test match in Colombo. (AP Photo)

Ishant Sharma resembles a maniac bully when he lets his anger manifest itself against his rivals. With his long mane flying, face contorted and hands functioning more like a policeman giving traffic directions than a bowler celebrating a dismissal, Ishant makes an ugly sight for the viewers.

The physical manifestation of the fast bowler's anger may have forced the match referee to hand him a one-match ban , but that is not how the Indian captain probably views it.

Virat Kohli, himself prone to bouts of uncontrolled temper, is happy that Ishant's altercation with Prasad and the resultant anger motivated his bowler to express himself through sustained hostility that helped India win the match.

Purely from a sporting context where victory is all that matters, Virat won't mind this behavioural pattern to get repeated if it motivates his premier fast bowler. The Indian captain should know as he himself has a history of giving a mouthful to his rivals and celebrate a century by screaming unprintable expletives.

These are young men in the prime of their youth, motivating themselves to use any resource that helps them give their best, even if it means throwing the decorum and model behaviour expected of public performers, to the wind. They are not the first ones to do this, neither will they be the last. The history of sport, cutting across all disciplines, is replete with behaviour much worse than what Ishant did in Colombo.

There have been fist-cuffs used, players have bitten each other and body-blows have reined on the field of play. Football and its stars have been the most notorious in this regard. Somehow cricket, which prides itself as a game which only "gentlemen" play, has so far not witnessed such abominable behaviour, though there have been minor incidents in domestic tournaments. But physical contact by and large is unheard of.

But whenever one witnesses an Ishant-like incident, images like that of Pakistan's Javed Maindad with bat in hand, threatening to strike Australian Dennis Lillee, flash across the eyes. There is always the danger in such situations that those who are threatening to cross the line, will actually do so and create a situation which might result in a free for all.

That is why there is need to have a stringent code of conduct for the players and swift, suitable punishment be handed over so that it deters the potential offenders from showing the ugly side of human nature.

Indian administration needs to be doubly careful, for they have in Kohli a captain, who is not always in control of himself. That is why it was a pleasant surprise to find him unusually calm and less demonstrative in Lanka than he has been in the past.

Captains lead by example and if Kohli allows his "natural instincts" a free run, and his players emulate him, we might have a team, like that of Ricky Ponting's Australia, which was known to let itself loose on its rivals like a "pack of hounds". Mercifully, Kohli is learning and a one-match ban on Ishant must have made him realise that an unpleasant expression of emotion is best exhibited in front of a mirror and not in full public view.