Please don’t ban me: Virat Kohli after the finger flick during India vs Australia 2012 Test

Virat Kohli admitted that he may have “got away” with what he did during the 2012 Sydney Test between India and Australia. The image of Kohli showing a middle finger to the Australian crowd spread like wildfire across the cricketing world and he said that it is one episode he would like to forget. “The one thing I remember most is when I’d had enough of the Australian crowd at Sydney [in 2012] and I just decided to flick a [middle] finger at them,” he recalled in an interview with Wisden Cricket Monthly.

“The match referee [Ranjan Madugalle] called me to his room the next day and I’m like, ‘What’s wrong?’ He said, ‘What happened at the boundary yesterday?’ I said, ‘Nothing, it was a bit of banter’. Then he threw the newspaper in front of me and there was this big image of me flicking on the front page and I said, ‘I’m so sorry, please don’t ban me!’ I got away with that one. He was a nice guy, he understood I was young and these things happen,” he said.

Kohli had accumulated a number of negative headlines in the early days of his international career but has since simmered down considerably. “I really laugh at a lot of the things I did when I was younger but I’m proud that I did not change my ways because I was always going to be who I am and not change for the world or for anyone else. I was pretty happy with who I was.”

Kohli said that his coach Rajkumar Sharma played a major role in shaping his technique and personality. Sharma runs the West Delhi Cricket Academy in New Delhi of which Kohli is an alumnus of. “My coach, Rajkumar Sharma, was always looking at things from the outside and he understood me the most after my family, because I had interacted him so much over the years. My family as well. Every time they felt like I was not on the right path they told me,” said the Indian captain,“But my coach was the one that was very stern with me. If I was doing something wrong he would make sure that he got that across, one way or the other. He was the only person I was scared of when I was growing up. I went into his academy when I was nine and even now I still speak to him about my game.

Kohli has been captain of the Indian Test team since 2014 and took over as the ODI and T20I skipper in January 2017 after MS Dhoni stepped down from the role. He said that he is hoping to help youngsters avoid making the mistakes he made. “I look forward to guiding the young guys in the team to not make the same mistakes that probably I made when I was their age because I want them to have three more years of quality cricket compared to going up and down, struggling here and there and then finally finding their feet,” he said. “If I see someone making the same mistakes that I committed and I cannot correct them, then it’s my failure. If I choose to stay quiet I’m not really doing my job. You don’t want to suffocate anyone but the mistakes I made early in my career, I would not like to see youngsters make them more than once, because that’s just wasting such an important phase of their lives and careers.”