Former South African skipper Graeme Smith, also the country’s most successful and long-serving captain has kicked off a new controversy by stating that he is not sure about Virat Kohli’s ability to get the best out of his players and also raised a question mark on his credentials as a long-term captain for India going forward in the future.
Smith, speaking at a preview show alongside Sunil Gavaskar and Pommie Mbangwa said that Kohli needs a person in the support staff who can challenge his ideas and can ultimately help him grow as a player and a leader for India.
As reported by ESPN Cricinfo, Graeme Smith said,
“When I look at Virat, I think he needs someone in the support staff who can constructively challenge him and help him grow. He has all the capabilities tactically, he knows his own game, he sets the standard in the field for everyone else.”
“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,” Smith was not finished.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar also echoed Smith’s views and stated that Kohli is still growing as a leader and it will be a while before he can be clubbed with the likes of Ganguly and Dhoni. Gavaskar also said that Kohli also must look to get himself down to the level of some of the other players in the team and then gradually take them up to the level where he wants them to be.
Mincing no words, Smith though was more clear and categorical in pointing out the disconnect between captain Kohli and the rest of the Indian team.
“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.”
Virat Kohli’s reactions can affect the team negatively
“[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 raised a serious question as to whether Kohli can be seen as a long-term captaincy option for India going forward.
“I don’t know, when I look at him, if he is a long-term captaincy option for India,” Smith said. “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.”