Never mind his theatrics, Virat Kohli is a role model

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Virat Kohli

Bengaluru, November 2: Virat Kohli has taken some giant strides towards becoming one of the greats in cricket, if he is not already one in the limited over versions.

After all, no active player averages 50-plus in one-dayers and T20 internationals. Kohli's Test average stands currently at 49.63 and that's an enviable record to hold.

No question there about him as a cricketer and the team is performing admirably under his leadership at this moment.

But is Kohli a role model for upcoming players?

The debate was sparked recently when the legendary Rahul Dravid stated during the Bangalore Literature Festival that he "cringes" after reading some of Kohli's pre-series statements and "worries that a lot of young kids tend to copy Virat."

Dravid here was not questioning Kohli's ways, though it can be insinuated so, but was rather stressing the significance of staying authentic to one's nature. The Bangalorean left it at that point.

In India, the role model concept is prejudiced and is thrust upon a child by the elders. A role model perforce has to be a teetotaler. A punctual, high-earning individual with no stain on his character or behaviour. Abrasiveness is certainly not allowed in a role model.

Now, Kohli does not fit into this age-old formula. He's not your everyday, good-natured mama's boy. He is a man of his times.

Kohli does not mind a confrontation or that little psychological war if they're going to pep him up for an on-field duel.

Kohli does not keep his thoughts to himself either - on or off the field. On the field, he is as animated as Jim Carrey. Off the field, he converses with his fans through Twitter posts and videos and not just about cricket but on a variety of subjects - politics to tattoos to fitness regime. Political correctness is not for him.

Kohli wants to be the best. He wants his team to be the best. It matters a whole world to him. In the process, he does not mind looking ugly in front of the world.

You can argue that athletes like Roger Federer, Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid, Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg achieved success silently.

But colourful characters are not bound to fail. Mohammed Ali. Andre Agassi. John McEnroe. Jimmy Connors. Brian Lara. Chris Gayle. Virender Sehwag...the list has some worthy names.

Make no mistake, under Kohli's brash, aggressive skin remains a person who enjoys the game and others' success. At Feroze Kotla, Kohli was in splits when Ashish Nehra displayed bit of 'football' skills while stopping a ball. The moment showed how unrestrained Kohli is. For him, emotions are to be expressed.

His dedication to fitness and attention to finer points of cricket - his own and in general - are quite extraordinary. In that sense, young cricketers have quite a bit to learn from Kohli.

But as Dravid pondered they should infuse those qualities of Kohli with their own nature, rather than looking to be another Kohli. After all, matching words and deeds is an art not mastered easily.

Only GOATs of their realms have done that. Kohli is on his way too!

Story first published: Thursday, November 2, 2017, 16:06 [IST]
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