Skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday won the 2019 ICC ‘Spirit of Cricket’ award for stopping fans from booing Australia’s Steve Smith during their World Cup match, the International Cricket Council said in a statement.
During the World Cup clash with India, Indian fans booed Smith and shouted “cheater, cheater”. Kohli urged them to calm down and instead cheer his batting.
At the end of the match, Kohli said he apologised to Smith on behalf of the fans. “I just felt for him, and I told him, ‘I’m sorry on behalf of the crowd because I have seen that happen in a few earlier games as well’. In my opinion, that’s not acceptable,” the Indian captain was quoted as saying by PTI.
After getting the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ award, Kohli said that the “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. I think you can have banter on the field, say things to the opposition in terms of wanting to beat them, but booing someone is not in the spirit of any sport.”
He also said that he does not endorse the booing and it should not be a representation of Indian fans. “Intimidate the opposition, definitely try and have an upper hand, but in a manner which is not targeting someone emotionally. I don’t think that is acceptable at any level.”