Johannesburg, January 23 (KMW): Former South African captain Graeme Smith raised questions on whether Virat Kohli is a long-term captaincy option for India. “I don’t know, when I look at him, if he is a long-term captaincy option for India,” Smith is quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo. “At the end of this year, he’d have been away from home for a while, the pressure he’ll face, the scrutiny from the press – I know he only gets that in India – but if you’re away from home and you’re struggling for form as a team, I don’t know if I’d want to burden Virat Kohli with that… Or if India have a better leader in that environment.”
Smith said that while his intensity is good for his own personal game, Kohli will have to consider how his reactions affect the players around of him. It was a view echoed by some experts and former cricketers during the second Test between India and South Africa in Centurion. Kohli scored 153 and was the last man to be dismissed but not many of his team mates could not replicate his effort. He looked increasingly frustrated as wickets fell down the other end.
“We all know he’s an outstanding player, his intensity really benefits his own personal game, he loves that confrontation, that intensity brings the best out of him,” Smith said. “Sometimes as a leader you’ve got to consider how you impact the others in the environment, that’s an area of his leadership that he needs to grow. You can see, he’s often at his players. He’s very aware, he’s focus on the game is on, sweeping or mid-on.
“[But] often his reaction to situations… I think that can sometimes impact on your team negatively. We all know how powerful Virat Kohli is in world cricket, in Indian cricket. For him, he’s built this aura and for him maybe to find a level where he can connect with all his players, to get to a level where can get the Indian team to be as successful as he is, that’s something that he, when I watch him, is grappling with.”
Smith also said that an individual in the support staff who can “constructively” challenge him might help him grow. “He has all the capabilities tactically, he knows his own game, he sets the standard in the field for everyone else,” he said, “I think if he had a really constructive person in his environment, who could talk to him, make him think, maybe even challenge him with some different ideas, in a constructive way, not an angry or aggressive way, but make him think, open his eyes to other possibilities, that would make him a really good leader.”
“You can be the best player in the world, and you love that intensity and you often don’t think what your team-mates are going through,” Smith said. “Sometimes you talk to AB de Villiers, he gets down and reverse sweeps, he makes it look so easy, and sometimes you need to remind AB that other guys don’t see it that way.
“As a leader you need to understand the whole environment, talk to the players to try to get the best out of the environment. He might grow as he learns to soften that a little bit. His performances speak for themselves, it’s about whether he can get the best out of those around him when they are under pressure.”