India captain Virat Kohli was awarded the Spirit of Cricket accolade at the International Cricket Council awards on Wednesday.
Kohli won the award for asking a section of the crowd to stop heckling former Australian captain Steven Smith during a key 2019 World Cup fixture at The Oval in London. Smith had previously been banned from international cricket for ball-tampering during Australia's 2018 tour of South Africa.
“I'm surprised that I have got it, after many years of being under the scanner for the wrong things. It is part of camaraderie that sportsmen must have with each other. That moment was purely understanding an individual's situation,” said Kohli.
“I dont think a guy who is coming out of a situation like that needs to be taken advantage of. You can sledge, can have have banter on the field, you say things to the opposition in wanting to beat them. But booing someone is not in the spirit of any sport, I don’t endorse it.
“Also, that should not be a representation of our fans and what we stand as a cricketing nation, a sporting nation. We need to all take responsibility towards that. Intimidate the opposition, definitely try and have an upper hand but in a matter that is not targeting someone emotionally. That is not acceptable at any level and people should be wary of that.”
Kohli at T20 World Cup and IPL
Kohli will likely captain India to the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year. India won the inaugural T20 World Cup (previously named the World Twenty20) in South Africa in 2007. They have been grouped with England, South Africa, Afghanistan and two qualifying teams for the 2020 T20 World Cup. Bet365 have offered India at 4.50 to win the 2020 T20 World Cup.
Prior to the T20 World Cup, he will be with the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League again. Bangalore have never won the IPL – and will be pursuing a maiden title in 2020. They will have the services of former Proteas captain AB de Villiers again.
De Villiers recently suggested coming out of international retirement to participate in the 2020 T20 World Cup. This decision would likely see Bangalore team-mates Kohli and de Villiers oppose each other when the Proteas and India meet in the T20 World Cup.