Telling India fans not to boo Smith during World Cup was right, says Kohli

From once stopping short of calling his Australian rival a cheat to urging the crowd to back him, it has been an incredible turnaround for Virat Kohli.

Virat Kohli won the ICC award for his gesture at the 2019 World Cup.   -  Getty Images

Numbers or records seldom matter for India captain Virat Kohli. But on Wednesday, he was happy to have won the Spirit of the Cricket award by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for his heartwarming gesture of asking the fans not to boo Steve Smith during the World Cup, last year.

“What happened at that moment for which I am awarded, it was very natural. I never planned. I could sense what the individual must be feeling after coming from a time like that, so to take advantage of someone’s emotion wasn’t correct. I just stood up for that. It wasn’t to gain something out of it,” Kohli said on the sidelines of the Audi Q8 launch here.

It started with Kohli's gesture at the Oval, signalling to raucous Indian fans, asking them to stop booing Steve Smith, who was coming back after last summer’s ball-tampering episode. Kohli had later told the media: “I felt bad and wouldn’t have liked the same thing to happen to me.”

Recollecting that incident, Kohli said: “It is also a representation of who we are as people, of who we are as a nation. It’s important to look at things in the right manner. For our fans to do that, for me as the captain of the team, it wasn’t the right message. I was happy that the ICC recognised it. It’s also for people to remember that our thinking should be right in whatever they do.”

Virat Kohli has been named the skipper of the Test and the ODI teams of the year.   -  SHAYAN ACHARYA


Kohli was also happy to have been named the skipper of the Test and the ODI teams of the year. “I used to look forward to these things when I was younger, some kind of recognition at the global level, but now I have started to realise that it’s the appreciation of what you do. For me, it’s not something that I look forward to or chase, but this is a matter of respect. For me, respect matters more than numbers and performance or things that are materialistic in the sporting world.

“When the process is recognised by the whole fraternity, it makes you feel that you are doing something right as a fraternity. It is what drives me and this is just an appreciation of that. From that point of view, I feel good that the ICC has recognised that.”

As captain, Kohli believes it’s important to give youngsters space to identify their talents. “Sometimes we are too judgmental about someone in their early years and I don’t want the youngsters in the team to go through that. Everyone should be given space to realise who they are…”

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