South Africa's most successful Test captain Graeme Smith is not sure if Virat Kohli can be a long-term leader for India and feels the star batsman's leadership skills are not challenged enough by the team management.
South Africa’s most successful Test captain Graeme Smith is not sure if Virat Kohli can be a long-term leader for India and feels the star batsman’s leadership skills are not challenged enough by the team management. “I don’t know, when I look at him, if he is a long-term captaincy option for India,” Smith said at a breakfast event organised by South African television network SuperSport. “At the end of this year, he’d have been away from home for a while, the pressure he’ll face, the scrutiny from the press – I know he only gets that in India – but if you’re away from home and you’re struggling for form as a team, I don’t know if I’d want to burden Virat Kohli with that… Or if India have a better leader in that environment,” said the former opening batsman.
Kohli has been in the line of fire for India’s selection choices in the first two Tests in South Africa that the team lost to lose the series. Smith feels Kohli needs a person around him who can challenge his decisions in a constructive way. “When I look at Virat, I think he needs someone in the support staff who can constructively challenge him and help him grow,” said Smith, a veteran of 117 Tests and 197 ODIs. “He has all the capabilities tactically, he knows his own game, he sets the standard in the field for everyone else.
“I think if he had a really constructive person in his environment, who could talk to him, make him think, maybe even challenge him with some different ideas, in a constructive way, not an angry or aggressive way, but make him think, open his eyes to other possibilities, that would make him a really good leader.”
Kohli is aggressive and expressive on the field and that can affect his teammates either way, feels Smith. “We all know he’s an outstanding player, his intensity really benefits his own personal game, he loves that confrontation, that intensity brings the best out of him,” Smith said. “But sometimes as a leader you’ve got to consider how you impact the others in the environment, that’s an area of his leadership that he needs to grow. You can see, he’s often at his players. He’s very aware, he’s focus on the game is on, sweeping or mid-on.
Smith says Kohli needs to connect more with his teammates. “But often his reaction to situations… I think that can sometimes impact on your team negatively. We all know how powerful Virat Kohli is in world cricket, in Indian cricket. “For him, he’s built this aura and for him maybe to find a level where he can connect with all his players, to get to a level where can get the Indian team to be as successful as he is, that’s something that he, when I watch him, is grappling with,” added Smith.