Virat Kohli’s expletive-laden tirade against a journalist covering India’s training session on Tuesday is unacceptable behaviour from one of the country’s sports and youth icons. Kohli’s combustible nature has been as well documented as his batting exploits but his unprovoked showering of abuses at a Hindustan Times reporter cannot be condoned, especially with the player justifying his error of mistaking him for another journalist. As condemnable as the behaviour of the Test captain was, it is even more surprising that no official within the team thought it fit to advise Kohli to immediately talk to the person he had targeted and apologise for his behaviour. That would have helped put the issue to rest.
However, by being casual about the whole issue, Kohli has only come across as someone who believes he can get away with such behaviour. As a young batsman who is regarded as among the finest in the current game, many youngsters look up to him. Abusing every time, whether in celebration or to vent his anger, at issues that do or don’t exist, is setting a poor example. This is where the Indian cricket board needs to step in and provide proper guidance. The BCCI pulls up players if they speak to the media, but is indifferent when they use shocking language in a public place while representing the country in as prestigious a tournament as the World Cup.
The board secretary, Anurag Thakur, seemed to brush aside the issue initially by saying that it was a misunderstanding. That effectively meant that the BCCI accepted that Kohli crossed the line but was not willing to tell him that such behaviour will not be accepted. However, Mr Thakur has issued a statement on Thursday that the BCCI has got in touch with the team management and told ‘the player in question’ that there should be no repeat of such incidents. Kohli has also been told to maintain the dignity of the national team at all times and avoid such behaviour in future. The BCCI response should be welcome although it should have been prompt in handling such indiscipline. The Indian team, the defending champions, are enjoying a great run in the World Cup, and they can do without such a distraction.