“You don’t need to be a captain to be a leader,” Says Virat Kohli

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India star batter Virat Kohli, who has recently stepped down from his Test leadership position, commented that he “doesn’t need to be a captain to be a leader”. He also reminded that understanding when to quit is also a part of leadership and he still has a role as a batter to “make the team win more”.

Kohli made the comments after retiring from the position of captain of the India Test team, putting an end to the 7-year long tenure. Kohli replaced his predecessor, MS Dhoni, in 2014 and proved his calibre in the longest format of cricket. He led India in 40 Test victories in 68 matches. 

The turbulence in Indian cricket began when Kohli quit T20I captaincy after the T20I World Cup 2021 in October last year. He was further removed as the ODI captain, giving birth to a row of controversies. The communication gap between Kohli and the board was exposed to the public in the following events. It ended in Kohli’s retirement from Test captaincy after the overseas series against South Africa.

He chose a podcast with Digit, a business forum with which Kohli is associated as a brand ambassador, to discuss matters of leadership and his attempt to bring cultural change to the team during his tenure. He also commented on the importance of the role of a captain in the team environment as every captaincy role comes with a fixed “tenure and time period”.

“Everything has a tenure and time period,” he replied to a question about giving up captaincy. “You obviously have to be aware of that. People might say ‘what has this guy done?’ but you know that when you think of moving forward and achieving more, you feel like you have done your job.”

Now as a batsman, you may have more things to contribute to the team. You can make the team win more. So, take pride in that. You don’t need to be a captain to be a leader. As simple as that,” he said.

Kohli also shared about how he will continue to be his own leader. “You do not need to be a captain to be the leader. When MS Dhoni was in the team, it was not like he was not the leader, he was still the guy from whom we wanted to have input.

“To win or not win is not in your hands, the striving for excellence and to be better every day, is not something you can do short term. When it comes to a culture, it will last beyond your playing years and your responsibility.

“To add to that, moving on is also a part of leadership, to understand the right time to do that. To understand that maybe the environment needs a different direction but obviously with the same cultural value. You continue to contribute to the team in the same manner but in a different role.

“I think one has to embrace all kinds of roles and opportunities. I have played under MS Dhoni for a while and then I became the captain, my mindset has been the same all this while. I always thought like a captain when I was just a player in the team. I want to make the team win. I want to be my own leader.”

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