India captain Virat Kohli says he is surprised at winning the ICC’s Spirit of Cricket Award after “years of being under the scanner for the wrong things”, referring to his past flare-ups.
He won the award for his gesture at the 2019 World Cup, when he egged the crowd on to support and not boo Steve Smith soon after his return to international cricket from a one-year suspension for ball-tampering.
From once stopping short of calling his Australian rival a cheat to urging the crowd to back him, it has been an incredible turnaround for Kohli, one of the world’s best batsmen alongside Smith.
“I’m surprised that I have got it, after many years of being under the scanner for the wrong things,” Kohli said in a statement issued by the ICC.
Explaining his reasons for backing Smith the way he did, Kohli added, “That moment was purely understanding an individual’s situation. I don’t think a guy who is coming out of a situation like that needs to be taken advantage of.” The passionate Kohli, who was once fined 50 percent of his match fees after he was seen showing the middle finger to the crowd as a reaction to some hostility from fans, is strictly against booing.