Millennium Post

Class act from the Captain

"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way" (John C Maxwell). Leadership is all about a vision and responsibility, an encouragement for others to learn more and dream bigger, to set an example of unadulterated integrity and veritable humility. It was a fine morning at The Oval in London and Indian batsmen were hitting the Australian bowlers all over the park. In between the overs, Smith was sent to the boundary line and it was then that a few Indian fans started chanting "cheater, cheater". What followed was one of cricket's momentous developments. Virat Kohli, who was batting then, came up to the fans and urged them to cheer for Steve Smith rather than boo at him. Now, for many, this could be a random act from the Indian captain. But in sports where the winner takes it all, it was extremely heartening to see such a gesture from Kohli who stood by another player in his support. Steve Smith was not just another player for Kohli because they have had their share of bitter exchanges on and off the field in the past. But his actions during the World Cup match not only highlighted the class of Virat Kohli alone but also went on to show the true spirit of the game on the field and also set a precedent that the world's biggest stage demands. Captains are the ambassadors of the game and through their demeanour, they can generate quite a lot of positive influence. They not only represent their respective countries and flags but also uphold the sportsman's spirit. Kohli and Smith have had their share of bitter banter but it has not stopped the former from protesting against the "cheater" chant and cheer for such an outstanding player as that of Smith who has already faced a ban, apologised, worked hard and is playing well. Kohli's statement will hopefully make an impact for he is one of the biggest names in the sport, leads a side that has a billion fans and is the face of the most powerful organisation in world cricket.

Even Steve Waugh, one of the toughest and most successful captains of all times, lauded Kohli's action. "Leadership reveals itself in many forms but I thought Virat Kohli's gesture in calming down the rough reception given to Steve Smith from the Indian spectators was a class act that calmed a volatile situation," Waugh, who led Australia to World Cup title in 1999, wrote for the ICC. Virat is the same player who was widely slammed when he showed the middle finger to the Australian crowd, who had heckled him in 2012. He is the same guy who often indulged in expletives on and off the field with not only his teammates but also with foreign players. It's in this context that the statesmanship he displayed when he took umbrage at the Indian crowd who booed Smith holds importance. It shows how a player has changed and matured over the years, controlled his temper and channelised his vivacity to lead from the front, to undoubtedly become one of India's most revered youth icons.

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