What‘s the story?
Former Australian opener Matthew Hayden has shot down Ian Healy’s ‘respect’ jibe at Virat Kohli and instead backed the Indian skipper’s aggressive body language. The 45-year-old also pointed out the similarities between himself and Kohli in terms of their on-field demeanour.
“Virat, like I did, always walks the fine line. We are passionate about the game and we believe that the body language, attitude, temperament, discipline and domination are part of our arsenal. Sometimes, they spill over. The key here is respect. The only thing I play the game for is to earn respect from fellow players. I am sure that is exactly the same with Virat as well, Hayden told Mumbai Mirror.
He explained, “I can say that the Indian cricketers are a privileged society. They get a lot adulation and even I started getting it here. I have actually become India-Australian and maybe in that order. I attended the BCCI awards function the other night because of the respect for the game. So did Virat challenge all this? No, he is earning respect.”
Earlier this month, Hayden’s former teammate Healy lashed out at Kohli for his confrontations with Steven Smith’s team. Not a one to shy away from a skirmish, the Indian captain hit back at the cricketer-turned-commentator’s argument by reiterating that he was not to be bothered by such comments and went on to point out the Australian wicket-keeper’s antics in the 1997 Centurion Test.
The heart of the matter
Healy’s statements attracted the ire of former Pakistani pacer Shoaib Akhtar who termed the entire episode as the ‘pot calling the kettle black’. Not stopping at that, he proclaimed that such a jibe was equivalent to a 'self-goal' and it could fire up Kohli for the rest of the series.
In a high-stakes contest at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Kohli was frequently seen urging the spectators to back the Indian bowlers. Riding on the intense support, the hosts eked out a hard-fought 75-run triumph to storm back into the series.
With scores of 0,13,12 and 15 in the series thus far, the third Test at Ranchi is set-up for Kohli to get back into form. Seeing as the series is currently level at 1-1, India will need their captain to be at his very best.
From publicly terming India as a ‘third-world country’ during Australia’s 2008 tour, Hayden’s relationship with the cricket-mad nation has indeed come a long way. Having participated in numerous IPL editions and taken frequent trips to this part of the world in other capacities, it seems like he has grown familiar with Indian cricket.
His sagacity and seasoned perspective on the game can be discerned from his assessment on the importance of mutual respect for any player.