Virat Kohli doesn't owe explanation to anyone, not even to the decision-makers | Cricket - Hindustan Times

Virat Kohli doesn't owe an explanation to anyone, not even to the decision-makers

Feb 09, 2024 03:05 PM IST

It’s also up to Virat Kohli whether he chooses to explain or not because, truth to tell, he really doesn’t owe any explanation to anyone.

Even in his absence, Virat Kohli commands attention.

India's Virat Kohli(AFP)
India's Virat Kohli(AFP)

It’s been more than two and a half weeks since the Board of Control for Cricket in India sent out a detailed press release (a rarity) informing all concerned that the former captain had withdrawn from the first two Tests against England owing to personal reasons. Speculation had been rife in various quarters regarding what those ‘personal reasons’ might be, until AB de Villiers seemingly scotched all whispers by announcing on social media that the Kohli family was expecting their second child.

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De Villiers, one of Kohli’s closest mates on the cricketing circuit, then retracted his ‘terrible mistake’ by ‘sharing false information, which was not true at all’. The game of speculation will, therefore, begin anew, which does no one any credit.

As compelling a figure as Kohli is, he is as entitled to his privacy as us more anonymous mortals. Just because he is a public personality who is a champion at India’s most followed sport doesn’t give anyone the right to dissect his personal life. It’s immaterial what the reasons behind Kohli’s unavailability are; it’s also up to him whether he chooses to explain or not because, truth to tell, he really doesn’t owe any explanation to the larger world, perhaps not even to those in a decision-making capacity who only need to know if he available for selection or not.

Kohli is a fiercely dedicated family man who goes to great lengths to ensure he doesn’t miss the crucial moments in his life. While he is driven when it comes to cricket, he isn’t consumed by it. He leaves nothing behind when he practices or plays, no matter which team he represents, because that’s how he is wired. His intensity is fierce, his competitiveness doesn’t need to be regurgitated because everyone knows how energised he is by the scent of a battle. There are few individuals who have been so passionately committed to the cause for as long as Kohli – he made his senior India debut in August 2008, by which time he had already made people sit up and take notice of his batting exploits and his in-your-face attitude at the Under-19 level whilst leading the team to the World Cup title in Kuala Lumpur the same year – and while everyone wants a slice of him, he is in the impossible position of not being able to oblige everyone.

So, if Kohli wants a break, whyever should he not ask for and get one? Don’t we take leave of absence from the office? Don’t we fill out ‘personal’ against the ‘reasons for leave’ column? Do we wonder why our colleagues have taken a break? Would we like it if others gossip over why we are missing in action? And, therefore, just because Kohli occupies the most public of spaces, does it bestow upon us the right to play the guessing game over what his ‘personal reasons’ might be?

Among the hundreds who have donned the India colours with distinction and pride, with fire and desire, Kohli is right at the top of the list. Despite more than a decade and a half at the highest level, his fire is undimmed, his pride in his performance untouched, his craving to propel the team to greater heights unsated. More than any other format, he adores and respects the five-day game; that’s obvious not just from his repeated statements with regard to the sanctity of Test cricket, but also his deeds on the field of play. It’s not as if he doesn’t rate, or enjoy, the two white-ball formats, but it’s Test cricket that truly gets him going, its fascinating ebbs and flows appealing to the competitor, the connoisseur and the romantic in him. If, therefore, he pulls out of one of the marquee showdowns of our times, it must be because there’s something more important in his life than five Test matches against England. Common sense and decency dictate that we should leave it at that, not indulge in guessing games because that doesn’t paint us in a good light. That’s also disrespectful of one of the modern legends, a hero who has inspired millions and elevated the sport to a glorious spectacle.

Whenever he feels things have settled and he is ready, Kohli will return to the fray. On his own terms. Not just Kohli, it’s the due of any sportsperson – anyone, for that matter. All we can do is wish him well, hope whatever he is grappling with (assuming that he is grappling with something) resolves itself amicably, and keep him in our thoughts.

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