Virat Kohli has said neither he, nor the Indian team, gave feedback to the Board of Control for Cricket in India on issues unless specifically asked.
Kohli was speaking on Thursday (June 29) in Antigua, the venue of the third One-Day International between India and Windies on Friday. The Indian team is currently without a head coach, Anil Kumble having resigned after the Champions Trophy after stating that his continuing had become untenable due to Kohli’s reservations.
“As a team, contrary to a lot of perceptions, we only voice our opinion when asked by the BCCI to give suggestions,” said Kohli. “That is something that we’ve always gone through as a process and we respect it as a team. When asked, it’s been asked together, it’s not like there’s segregation of anything. We respect that process and if that same procedure takes place, we’ll give our suggestions to the BCCI.
“Right now, we have a series at hand and this is what we’re focussed on. The process (of selecting a new coach) is taking place and that is in the control of the BCCI. The process has always been in place and our priority is this series and preparing for the games that lie ahead of us.”
Kohli refused to be drawn into any more questions about the coaching situation, including generalities such as whether an international team needed a man-manager more than a technical coach. “The suggestions are given to the board who handle the procedure,” he maintained. “There is no point saying anything out in the open because that is for us as a team to convey to the board as and when we are asked.”
Kohli had made his Test debut in the Caribbean in 2011, and while reflecting on his journey since then, he said it had evolved organically and he continued to be his own man. “I haven’t worked on anything specifically, I’ve just let things pan out the way they have to,” he said. “I have never forced myself to be someone that I’m not. It’s a natural process. You develop with time, understanding things with time. You evolve and it happens with any human being. I have never done something to please anyone else, I’ve always been myself and that’s the way I continue to be going ahead as well.”
India currently have a 1-0 lead in the five-match series, with the first ODI being washed out. Their training session on Thursday was also cut short thanks to the rain, but Kohli said the weather had allowed the team to have more bonding time.
“I think we’ve had enough practice leading up to this game, with two games earlier and a practice session here yesterday. So we’re not too bothered (by today’s rain). It’s a good opportunity to have a day off and do something together as a team,” he said. “We went to the beach together as a team. You can walk around together, it’s pretty peaceful. From that point of view, it’s quite relaxing for everyone, just to be close to nature. It’s a beautiful place. It depends on your likes and dislikes but there’s a bit for everyone to do. We certainly enjoy coming here on tour.
“It’s very important to grab these opportunities and stick together,” he continued. “Guys training together in the gym in groups, just spending time, even having a chat or two at breakfast. Trying to find things to do together throughout the day really helps us bond as a team. It makes you understand each other much better and that’s a very important aspect of any team. This team is a very closely knit unit and we all get along with each other really well, so you won’t see anyone hanging out separately. We can all mingle and hang out together. That’s the biggest quality of this team.”
On his own batting evolution and the constant scrutiny that was a natural fallout of being a superstar, Kohli said that while he had preferred chasing in limited-overs cricket earlier, he was at peace batting both first and second now. As for the scrutiny – including cameras panning always to him – he had learned to live with it.
“You can’t be totally away from the reality of your body. As you become older, you need to manage your body well. I won’t say you can go 150% intensity every time you play or for six-seven years. You have to slow down at times.”
“You have to adapt to different situations as a batsman,” he explained. “You won’t always have the time or number of overs to build your innings and make a big hundred. That is something I’ve learned over the years as a batsman and I’ve kept working on in my game. Now it’s become that whatever situation is in front of you, you react accordingly and try to tackle. So for me it’s not about batting second anymore. I used to prefer doing that initially in my career, it just gave me a different kick I guess. Now it’s more of understanding the situation and what the team requires.”
Kohli admitted that being the centre of attention every time did bother him initially, but that it had ceased to affect him now. “It’s something you become immune to after a while,” he shrugged. “It’s happened quite a bit in the last few years. I used to take note of it initially but when you’ve played so many games, gone through that scenario so many times, what matters to you at the end of the day is what you’re doing on the field with your skill.
“Rest of it, if the cameras want to cover you or don’t… I think it’s a distraction early on in your career because it’s new. But after a while you don’t get distracted by these things. You know it’s going to be there, so you just have to focus on what you need to do. You just want to execute your plans rather than thinking, ‘There’s too much attention on me, there’s too many cameras pointing at me.’ It is not in my control, it’s not something I’ve asked for. It’s happening and I have to take it in my stride.”
Kohli has led the way, not just for India but in world cricket, in attaining and maintaining peak physical fitness. While holding that it was necessary for someone who wanted to excel in all three formats of the game, Kohli acknowledged that there were times when every player would need to slow down.
“The mindset always as a cricketer is to play all formats with equal commitment and intensity,” said Kohli. “I’ve worked on my fitness based on that. If you want to play all formats and be at the top of your game, you have to understand that your physical needs are much larger as well. But yes, with time and the amount of cricket played, you have to be wary of when to rest, how to manage energy levels, take care of your stamina, nutrition and all those sort of things become very important.
“Obviously, you can’t be totally away from the reality of your body. As you become older, you need to manage your body well. I won’t say you can go 150% intensity every time you play or for six-seven years. You have to slow down at times. People can burn out soon but it’s about maintaining a balance.”