On Virat Kohli’s Anger

Sharda Ugra and Satadru Sen both have very good essays on Virat Kohli’s displays of anger over the Australian tour. Since I’ve long been a supporter of the spirit-of-cricket meme, I too have a problem with players flipping the middle finger at crowds and mouthing sister-fucker as part of a debut century celebration.

But I want to add a cautious dissent: analysts and commentators often offer tributes to hyper-rational players who, possessed of a “cricketing brain,” are able to astutely judge a match situation without allowing it to overwhelm them. What is conjured up is a homo economicus figure straight out of the Enlightenment (and maybe the Victorian era): cool, calm, without emotion.

This model, however, has been under attack in the social sciences, particularly in the field of behavioral economics, for about two or three decades now. We know that the human mind relies extensively on emotions in decision-making and that particular situations often dictate how a brain operates. It’s not that we are all irrational, only that we are predictably irrational in many ways (for e.g., we tend to worry much more about potential losses than we’re happy about potential gains). It’s not a battle between emotion and rationality, but perhaps choosing between the right emotions (anger could lead to a Kohli century, or, as we all know, to the dark side).

Which is all to say that I don’t particularly mind it when players draw upon emotions — in this case, anger — to power their on-field behavior. We’ve seen it time and time again — I wrote about Yuvraj Singh’s anger after being sledged by Andrew Flintoff in the 2007 World Cup, when he hit six sixes off Stuart Broad. There’s also Zaheer Khan, who began his comeback on an England tour after having jellies thrown on the pitch by a mischievous Alistair Cook. I clearly haven’t thought through my take on how emotions work, but I know at least some of the time, they do. So let anger, pride, sorrow, fear work its way into our understanding of cricket.


7 thoughts on “On Virat Kohli’s Anger

  1. Poorvi says:

    Never liked the guy. I remember watching the final of the under19 world cup against South Africa. He was captain & was swearing quite enthusiastically. What’s ironic is that he defended his finger salute in Australia by claiming that the Aussie crowd said nasty things about his mother & sister. And here he is saying the very same thing.

    • khushi says:

      I can understand evn i don’t lik swearing… but still he is just 22 he is yong h will be ok afta few yrs.. m sure…
      dat so

  2. I am with you (and Kohli) on this one. I just feel like reminding everyone, that at the end of the day, he is just a 20-year old human who has emotions. Cricket or any sport for that matter would be very boring if players just did their job and stayed cool, calm and emotionless.

    I do not defend flipping the bird, but I really hope people don’t complain about him swearing in U-19 WC final. I mean, he wasn’t even 19 then and its easy to cross the line after such an achievement.
    People might say, that RD, VVS or SRT might never do such things, but then, why do the new generation have to behave like these gentlemen ? That just makes no sense. As long as he is doing his job nicely, I have no complains with anger or emotions.

    • Poorvi says:

      Swearing as an under-19 player would have been excusable had he grown past it. He is after all 23-24 now. But he hasn’t.

      • khushi says:

        M sure he will be fine afta few yrs but 4 nw he is bestest batsmen in indian team as no has scored big score n i guess u don’t noe his real story y he has been so aggnornt…

  3. testdomain says:

    My spouse and I stumbled over here different website and thought I might check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to looking at your web page again.

  4. Hi there to every one, the contents present atthis web page are in fact remarkable for people experience, well, keep up the good workfellows.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: