These days, India skipper Virat Kohli is talking more about how he is a human and not a robot. Before the first Test in Kolkata, Kohi told the media if you sliced his skin, he would bleed. For a man who usually does not speak in such a manner, his recent comments are surprising.
As if these remarks were an aberration, Kohli is now talking about too much cricket and how planning for an important overseas tour like South Africa should be better. It’s good to see Kohli speak his mind. Nobody ever called Kohli a robot as a robot can never perform like the maestro. A robot behaves as it has been programmed. Maybe in jobs and even medicine today, including surgery, robots are doing a great job. Precision has become a key in it.
But in a sport like cricket, where Kohli is not just the master batsman but also a great leader, role model and a superstar the team looks up to, his comparison with a robot is odd. But then, as these are his own words, they cannot be ignored.
Kohli spoke of how he would bleed if cut. Perhaps, he does not know that if he suffers any cut, hearts of millions in India will bleed. Cut to the Nagpur Test, where India are batting well and Kohli scored a half century on Saturday, the skipper has spoken about too much cricket. He is right in saying preparations for the tough tour to South Africa in December-end are not the best.
When someone as seasoned as Kohli is speaking, you have to hear him out. We were made to believe the curators for the series against Sri Lanka would be preparing bouncy tracks so that the Indians would not struggle in South Africa.
Watching the proceedings in Nagpur on Saturday, where Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara scored centuries in true Test cricket style, there was nothing to suggest these wickets have anything to offer to the fast bowlers. In fact, in the first innings, it was spinners R.Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja who bamboozled the Sri Lankans.
A rough calculation shows after the Indian Premier League till the end of the series against Sri Lanka, the Indian cricket board (BCCI) has budgeted for a maximum possible 69 days of cricket. This includes Tests, ODIs and T20 internationals.
When you are a professional sportsperson, you cannot complain about a heavy workload. Unlike the old days when Indian cricketers were paid less and the number of matches played was much less, the cricket season was less taxing.
For almost 15 years now, the amount of cricket played has been constantly increasing. If one were to compare the workload of cricketers with that of top tennis stars or footballers, it will be a study in contrast. Footballers in England just get about a month’s break. Even in harsh winter, they are not enjoying a break.
Playing close to 60 matches, club plus for the country and with hectic training sessions in between, the football players are stretched to the limit. In tennis, a Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal also complain about too much tennis. But then, they are able to pick how much they want to play.
Federer missed the clay season and French Open while Nadal did not come to Wimbledon in 2017. Ideally, men in charge of running cricket at home should be handling tour schedules and so on. They are doing it, but are only focused on how much cricket they have to show on television as per contractual obligations.
If you are going to expect non-cricketers who run Indian cricket to do the planning and look at what it takes to prepare for a tough tour like South Africa, then you are barking up the wrong tree.
Ideally, the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman should look into cricketing matters. Given the plethora of experience they have, officials should be picking their brains on scheduling and preparing for a tough series.
Strangely, the only time the CAC is involved in decision making is to find a new coach after one has been fired or when the “dressing room” feels uncomfortable with someone like Anil Kumble! To be sure, if Kohli needs a break, he would do well to skip the Indian Premier League. Whether he will do that is debatable because in the IPL cricketers become like “robots”.
Crazy schedules, mind boggling travel and playing at different venues in the tough T20 format is more taxing. At a time when the fast bowlers in India are now being given a break, there is no harm if Kohli decides to skip a few matches. In fact, he can skip one full series, be it Tests or ODIs so that he can be fresh.
Freshness has more to do with the mind, so even against Sri Lanka, Kohli can skip the third Test. Kohli’a aura and stature in Indian cricket are huge. Nobody dare question him if he wishes to miss some cricket. As one who defines greatness, even a mild comparison with a “robot” is not needed.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)