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I’m proud I haven’t changed my ways: Virat Kohli


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As Virat Kohli reaches 10 years as an international cricketer, he says that he’s proud that he has stayed true to himself all this time.

Kohli, who made his ODI debut as a 19-year-old against Sri Lanka in 2008, is now the top ranked Test and ODI batsman in the world. Now regarded as arguably the best cricketer on the planet and captain of the number one ranked team in Test cricket, Kohli reflects on the earlier days of his career in a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Wisden Cricket Monthly. 

In the interview, Kohl admits that he sometimes laughs at how his younger self acted on the field. He recalls one particular incident in front of the Australian fans in Sydney back in 2012. He said: “The one thing I remember most is when I’d had enough of the Australian crowd at Sydney [in 2012] and I just decided to flick a [middle] finger at them. ‘I’m so cool’. The match referee [Ranjan Madugalle] called me to his room the next day and I’m like, ‘What’s wrong?’ He said, ‘What happened at the boundary yesterday?’ I said, ‘Nothing, it was a bit of banter’. “Then he threw the newspaper in front of me and there was this big image of me flicking on the front page and I said, ‘I’m so sorry, please don’t ban me!’ I got away with that one. He was a nice guy, he understood I was young and these things happen.

“I really laugh at a lot of the things I did when I was younger but I’m proud that I did not change my ways because I was always going to be who I am and not change for the world or for anyone else. I was pretty happy with who I was.”

Kohli cites his childhood coach, Rajkumar Sharma, as someone who kept him in check if his behaviour ever strayed out of line. He conceded that he was the only person who he was scared of growing up. “My coach, Rajkumar Sharma, was always looking at things from the outside and he understood me the most, after my family, because I had interacted him so much over the years. My family as well. Every time they felt like I was not on the right path they told me,” Kohli said. 

“But my coach was the one that was very stern with me. If I was doing something wrong he would make sure that he got that across, one way or the other. He was the only person I was scared of when I was growing up. I went into his academy when I was nine and even now I still speak to him about my game.” As captain of his nation in all formats of the game, Kohli embraces the role of leader and is prepared to help guide young players as well as trying to help them avoid mistakes similar to the ones that he made as a youngster. He said: “I look forward to guiding the young guys in the team to not make the same mistakes that probably I made when I was their age because I want them to have three more years of quality cricket compared to going up and down, struggling here and there and then finally finding their feet. “If I see someone making the same mistakes that I committed and I cannot correct them, then it’s my failure. If I choose to stay quiet I’m not really doing my job. You don’t want to suffocate anyone but the mistakes I made early in my career, I would not like to see youngsters make them more than once, because that’s just wasting such an important phase of their lives and careers.”


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