Much has been made of Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli’s performance this series, both on and off the field.
On it, he has been divisive; although he has been useless with bat in hand (averaging just nine), it is his demeanor, and his nerve to play the Australians at their own game, that has ignited his country in a fit of passion for this great rivalry.
Although Indians rarely need to be asked twice to get excited about cricket, Kohli has a nation of one billion mesmerised. We have certainly seen defiance from India on the field before, but rarely, if ever, from the head of the snake.
Kohli’s on field antics, frequently described in the Aussie media as “pugnacious”, “petulant”, and many other superlatives reminded ESPNCricinfo’s Jarrod Kimber, of the days when Ricky Ponting was at his deathly intense best.
But off the field, Kohli has truly shown his best form of the series, headlined by accusing Australian captain Steve Smith of cheating when it comes to the controversial decision review system.
The Aussies have never liked the battle being taken off the field, especially when it comes to cricket. After all, their famed intimidating tactics cannot be utilised.
Former Australian ODI captain, Ian Healy, claimed that Kohli’s display this series has caused him to “lose respect” for the 28-year-old, arguably the world’s most popular cricketer.
All this is evidence is that Kohli has done best what many of the teams that Healy played in did brilliantly also – get under their opponent’s skin, and stay there.
It is this that makes Kohli such a brilliant captain for India. For a nation of such cricket fanatics, cricket compulsives even, Kohli’s no holds barred style of leadership is exactly what is required.
It can be said that Kohli’s style of leadership perfectly exemplifies his countries’ love for cricket.
However, it is safe to say that the Aussie media has not exactly been impressed with Kohli’s attempts to ignite the series – but wait, why not?
After all, where were Healy’s criticisms of the numerous times Australia have lead the way in the on and off field barking? Is what we do so different?
Of course, calling the opposition captain a cheat in any way, shape or form is not going to win you many fans on the other side of the fence.
But Kohli’s sarcastic clap for another failed Aussie review on day two of the third test would not have looked out of place if he we wearing a baggy green instead of a navy blue cap.
Back to Kimber’s comparison, perhaps Australians object to the fact that there may be a Test captain out there with a more vocal and overstated will to win than their own.
Not being the leaders at chest beating and on field verbal altercations has always bothered us Aussies, hasn’t it?
But really, what we should be doing is thanking Virat Kohli. In what has been an absorbing Test series, Kohli’s continual presence as the itch Australia cannot scratch has added another, juicer element to the Trophy.
Kohli has injected this series with a kind of life it could not have had without him. As an Aussie, it has made me more desperate to win this series, something I had not thought possible beforehand.
The presence of India’s ever-boisterous cricket fans has always made the Border-Gavaskar Trophy something different. The Ashes may have the history, but this is a different kind of passion altogether.
The presence of a player, a captain, a man like Virat Kohli in the series for the next five plus years is something we should love and welcome.
In a form of the sport battling for relevance, I am dying to take the spoils in India, and I am already looking forward to the next time we get to play them.