Every cricketer or every sportsman goes through a tough period or bad form at least once in his career. In general discussions too we say that there is always a bad decade in everyone’s life, and there is nothing new about it. Similarly, Virat Kohli is going through a bad form. Being cricket fans we must support him as much as we could, and we are doing it also. But right now Virat is in such a peculiar situation in his career that he himself needs to decide what he should do now.
It is not that no one had this stature of bad form in his career like what Virat is going through. If we talk about Indian cricket, from Sunil Gavaskar to Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and now Virat Kohli, every one of them has gone through bad patch. But the generation before the previous one did not have to go through continuous pressure from the media and social media. Apart from that Gavaskar and Kapil Dev were playing only Tests and ODIs and that too in a very small amount.
These days cricket fans and sports journalists keep their eyes on all the ‘great’ cricketers without fail and give their analysis after completing each match. We don’t know whether our cricketers are keeping their eyes on these analyses or not, but one thing we can assume is that they must be getting information somehow through various people living in their close circles. Secondly, we the Indians always expect a century from each good batter and a five-wicket haul from each good bowler. So, if these players don’t match our expectations then we start to believe that they are not going through good form.
That was about media and fans, but a cricketer who has played this great game for a longer period of time always knows where he is making mistakes and he always tries to correct them. But when a ‘great’ cricketer really gets out of form a few or more facts (or mistakes in other words) come out in open, and initially, these mistakes are not taken seriously by that cricketer or the board or the selectors. Maybe all of them have a similar thought process that all it needs is one inning, and then everything will be fine because he is already a ‘great’ cricketer.
Then slowly but surely the number of failures starts to increase and the pressure from media, social media, and the cricketer himself mounts immensely. In such a situation the board, team management, or selectors may not be of the opinion to put more pressure on that player, but as I mentioned above the player in question always know that things are not going well and hence he has to come back to the form anyhow. In short, the pressure becomes so big that ultimately that player not been able to make runs at all.
As discussed before making century after century is not the criteria of good or bad form, but not being consistent in making good scores is the benchmark to decide whether a player is in form or not. Virat Kohli has not made any century for the last three years is not decided that he is not in form but he is not making those 70-80 runs in every third or fourth inning or not scoring even a half-century is the problem. If a batter is in a form then how and when he gets out is not questioned by anyone.
But the problem with Virat is that he is getting out in each innings by finding new ways of it. If this is not enough then those catches that normally are very difficult to take are getting caught by the fielders and that is making things even worse for Virat and this means that even luck is not with him at this moment. Like Sunil Gavaskar said last week about Virat Kohli’s form that he doesn’t need to play every ball. But it is natural that when a batter is not in the form he wants to play each and every ball and wants to be in runs so that he can regain his form, but in the process, he plays the shots too early and throws his wicket away.
The bowlers around the world must have found the key to getting Virat Kohli out, it seems. Not only in Tests or ODIs but during this year’s IPL too, the bowlers continuously bowled him outside the off-stump and he kept on giving him wickets. Not only just outside the off stumps but Virat these days tries to hit the ball which is way outside of the off stump, maybe on the fifth or sixth stump, and get out. We have seen plenty of such loose shots by Virat in recent times.
All these facts are proving that Virat Kohli is going through a very bad form. But should he be dropped from Team India is the best solution right now? The answer to this question is both Yes and No. No, because Virat is one of the greatest cricketers India has ever produced and there are no two ways about it, so he must be respected fully and selectors must suggest him with a promise to go to the domestic circuit and get his form back and once everything is fine, he will be back in the national team.
And Yes, because Virat is out of form in all three formats of the game. Things would have been different had he been in form at least in one format, so he must be told to go to the domestic circuit and play all three formats there. This is in no way an insult to a champion player like what happened with Sourav Ganguly in the Dravid-Chappel era. Dada was dropped from the team without taking his stature into consideration and that was a huge insult to a captain that brought back Indian cricket on track after the match-fixing scandal almost pushed fans away from the game.
Now the same Sourav Ganguly is at the helm of the BCCI so either he or the chief selector Chetan Sharma can sit one-to-one with Virat and advise him to go domestic. If this doesn’t happen and Kohli keeps on getting more and more chances then it will be a big injustice to Suryakumar Yadav and Deepak Hooda who have to be part of a rotation policy just because Virat is in the team despite having no form at all, especially when the T20 World Cup 2022 is hardly 100 days away. Legendary Kapil Dev also opinioned the same thing just a few days back.
Today, when I am writing this, ex-Indian fast bowler Venkatesh Prasad has said in a statement, “Sourav, Sehwag, and Yuvraj all these had to go back to the domestic cricket and gained their form then why not Virat?” If an international great had to return to domestic cricket to get back his form, his greatness doesn’t get lesser one bit. Domestic cricket is a root for any cricketer and going back to the root and getting back the form will not trouble any cricketer. As Prasad said we have such examples of the past and I think Virat also knows that fact as well.
Again I would like to stress that problem is not that Virat is not making centuries, but the problem lies in his inconsistent performances. If we look at last year’s stats of Virat Kohli in all three formats…
In Tests: M – 10; R – 527; AVG – 29.27 (Career AVG: 49.53)
In ODIs: M – 6; R – 145; AVG – 23.66 (Career AVG: 58.07)
In T20Is: M – 9; R – 149; AVG – 24.83 (Career AVG: 50.12)
Highest scores of Virat Kohli in all formats in the last year
Tests: 79; ODIs: 65; T20Is:57
All these stats point only one direction for Virat Kohli and that is to play domestic cricket and get back his form. By playing domestic cricket he can correct his mistakes without any pressure and that will benefit him and ultimately Team India as well.
11th July 2022, Monday