Fierce. Competitive. Aggressive. The King. These are adjectives often used to describe Virat Kohli's cricket, whether that’s his on field demeanour or his leadership.
Kohli has had these attributes broadly on display throughout the opening test matches between Australia and India. The Indian captain’s passion distinct and providing the driving force for his teammates pushing towards victory.
While these are admirable traits they appear to be overlapping in Kohli’s case with other traits that should be suppressed on the cricket pitch. Petulance. Brattish behaviour. Volatility.
Is King Kohli the King Captain? Or just King Brat?
The send offs that Kohli has been giving to the Australian batsmen have been embarrassing. First, it appears that he is the only Indian getting involved in serving the outgoing player. Secondly, his outward display and animated body actions are certainly overly antagonistic, if not borderline offensive. With two teams who have been infamously caught out with sledging or attacking players for generations, it is worrying that the Indian captain is continuing in this manner.
The Australian team is amidst a pronounced re-branding. With Tim Paine as the captain it looks like every player in the baggy green are curbing their verbal assault on their opponents. This is going to be difficult to continue with the constant hostility shown by the Indian leader.
The general attitude of the teams can be demonstrated by two separate incidents from the test series.
In the first test in Adelaide, with the Aussies approaching an unlikely victory with nine wickets down, Josh Hazlewood was removed snicking off to slip. The Indian team rejoiced and the number 11 batsmen nodded his head in disappointment, accepted the decision and walked off.
Now to the second test in Perth, with the Indian captain having batted beautifully to be sitting on 123, a flashing cover drive glances the edge of the captain’s bat and Peter Handscom dives forward to take the catch. Kohli questions the decision despite Handscomb adamantly claiming the catch. The umpires send the call to the third umpire and the results is expected, inconclusive. Kohli storms off the ground, serving out a verbal spat the cricket gods that can be heard by anyone in earshot.
The contrasting reactions represents the attitudes of the teams at this moment. Test cricket needs competitive and aggressive matches. The fear is that the passion will spill over into an ungainly and ugly incident to the detriment of the game. Play tough cricket, don’t be a brat King Kohli.