Amazon Prime’s new cricket documentary ‘The Test’ has lifted the lid on Australia’s private fury over Virat Kohli’s antics in the 2018/19 Border Gavaskar Trophy.
The Aussies had previously vowed not to engage with the Indian captain throughout the series, but some fiery outbursts during the second Test in Perth made Justin Langer change his tune.
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Kohli was at his fiery best in the early stages of the four-match Test series, exploding with exuberance after every wicket and letting the Aussie batsmen know about it.
The Australian side had vowed to be on their best behaviour as they tried to patch up their image that had been destroyed by the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal.
But midway through the second Test, Langer had seen enough.
As revealed in episode three of ‘The Test’, Langer gathered his troops in the dressing rooms at Optus Stadium and vowed to put Kohli back in his box.
“I remember that afternoon (feeling) like a punching bag. We can’t fight back because it felt like we had our hands behind our backs and we just had to take it,” Langer said in the documentary.
“It just felt a bit double standards to me. Imagine if we behaved two out of ten (of) that.”
Aussie captain Tim Paine also agreed that enough was enough.
“The plan was not to talk to him when he was batting, when we were batting it’s kind of up to the individual what they want to do,” Paine said.
“I sort of just had enough and thought you also have to stand up for yourself and your teammates and that was one of the reasons I thought, ‘no, I’m the captain, it’s my turn, I have to stand up and show him we’re here for the fight’.”
Paine then headed out to bat and almost instantly engaged in a verbal battle with Kohli.
“If he messes it up, it’s 2-0. Who’s gonna talk then?” Kohli was heard saying over stump microphones.
To which Paine shot back: “You’ve got to bat first, big head,” referring to the fact India were batting last on a troublesome wicket.
Langer unhappy with ‘double standards’
At the end of the day’s play Langer again addressed his troops and called out the ‘double standards’.
“Boys, to be honest, I’m pretty emotional tonight, eh? Because I just think, one; you’re all probably feeling the double standards, the way their captain is carrying on, we sort of have to be really careful,” Langer said.
Paine said he believed Kohli was feeling the pressure of staring down defeat.
“With him, what I feel is that he’s getting nervous,” Paine added.
“He still needs six wickets, he knows how hard our lower order is (still) to bat. And I think in terms of putting him under pressure, I think we’re getting there.
“I think we’re close and we’re seeing him start to get a bit punchy, a bit aggro. They’re all getting worried. So if we keep our cool, deliver our skill, we’ve got this game.”
Commentators and fans also called out Kohli over his ‘embarrassing’ antics at the time.
Kohli can only be considered a legend of the game when he tones down his on field antics. He reminds me of a Jack Russell barking at a bigger dog over a fence. Sure he’s a great player but being Captain requires a bit of class and restraint. He seems to lack both.#AUSvIND— Donald Griffiths (@dongrif) December 16, 2018
Kohli’s antics are really embarrassing. Have been since forever actually. This time he’s taking on somebody in the crowd? #INDvsAUS— iErr (@vivekiyer20) December 16, 2018
Kohli has lost the plot. He’s embarrassing himself out there #AUSvIND— Zac Jardine (@zaccyj) December 16, 2018
Good on Michael Hussey for calling out Virat Kohli’s antics. There is a bit of a double standard happening in world cricket at the moment. Australians apparently have to be meek and mild and everyone else can be aggressive @cricketcomau #AUSvIND— Jim Kelly (@JimKelly20) December 16, 2018
I've said it before and I'll say it again, the way Kohli celebrates after a wicket is DISGUSTING. He may be the best cricketer in the world but he is also the worst bloke in the world. #AUSvIND— Matty (@MatanSlonim1997) December 28, 2018
“Virat Kohli is out of control out there,” Aussie great Mike Hussey said on Macquarie Sports Radio at the time.
“He is revving up the crowd and he is going nuts when they take a wicket. I don’t like his attitude at the moment.”
Fellow Aussie great Tom Moody expressed similar disdain.
“Virat Kohli has lost all control of his emotions today.”
How Tim Paine won the battle and respect of Australia
The very next day Kohli appeared to unravel after he went face-to-face with Paine in a bizarre physical clash while the Aussie was running between wickets.
“You don’t want to get into a fight with him because that’s what he likes so I was just trying to poke him a little bit and see if I can get him to implode a little bit,” Paine said.
“He was trying to upset me with (calling me) ‘part-time captain’ and I sort of went the opposite with him.”
Paine won the battle as Australia won the Test to level the series at 1-1, but Indian eventually won the war by claiming the series 2-1.
However the win in Perth was Australia’s first in a Test since the Cape Town scandal.
And Paine’s ability to stand up and take the fight to Kohli won over the Australian public.
“He had the respect of us but I think he earned in that Test match the respect of the country and the fans,” teammate Travis Head said.
‘The Test’ is streaming now on Amazon Prime.