Cricketers and commentators alike have criticised Virat Kohli’s remark that Australian cricketers were no longer his ‘friends’ after the intensely fought series at home that concluded in Dharamsala earlier week.
Before the four-Test series Kohli was quoted as saying, “I am good friends with all these guys…I know them really well…but I know where to draw the line of friendship…when you step onto the field, I could be playing against my big brother but it wouldn’t matter.
After the series he said, “What I said before the first Test, that has certainly changed and you won’t hear me say that ever again.”
On Thursday Kohli tweeted that his comments had been blown beyond all proportions and reiterated that his comment made after the series win was directed at only a few Australian cricketers and not all of them. He had played along with several of them in the Royal Challengers, Bangalore team in the Indian Premier League, he said, and indicated that nothing would change that.
"My answer at the post match conference has been blown way out of proportion. I did not categorically say the whole Australian team but....," read the first tweet.
"Only a couple of individuals. I continue to be in good terms with the few guys I know & who I've played with at RCB & that doesn't change," he wrote in his second tweet.
But before Kohli could clarify, his comment triggered several adverse comments. “Virat will learn that this great game is not just about winning and losing…” tweeted former Australian player Dean Jones while former English cricketer David Lloyd tweeted, “This lad certainly has a lot to say-maybe he should sit and listen to S. Tendulkar.”
Former Australian captain Mark Taylor, writing a blogpost, recalled that no matter what the result, he had always reached out to the opposing team. Although a lot is at stake these days and although cricket is extremely competitive, it is just a game after all, he pointed out. “Cricketers play together a lot these days…so you have to be careful about holding grudges,” he added.
The series was mired in controversies, with one following another. It all started when Australian captain Steve Smith took dressing room help in taking a DRS call and Kohli stopped short of calling him a cheat.
Kohli was also attacked by the rival players and Australian media, which likened him to US President Donald Trump. Cricket Australia also jumped into the controversy when its CEO James Sutherland said Kohli perhaps does not know how to spell the word sorry.
The fireworks continued till the final Test, in which Ravindra Jadeja and Matthew Wade were involved in a verbal duel and Smith was heard using a cuss word against Murali Vijay for claiming a catch that was deemed not clean.
In a questionable move, the BCCI uploaded the video clip of the exchange on its website, setting a bad precedent which forced Smith to voice his disappointment. What happens on the field, he felt, should be allowed to remain on the field.
Smith himself had tendered a public apology for his own behaviour on the field, which prompted Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar to say that Smith had gone up in his esteem with the apology.
With PTI inputs.