Virat Kohli had two contrasting tours of England in 2014 and 2018. The stats say it all:
2014: 134 runs from 10 innings at an average of 13.4
2018: 593 runs from 10 innings at an average of 59.3
The Indian captain opened up about the change in fortunes and the effort that went behind it in a conversation with Mayank Agarwal uploaded on bcci.tv. Kohli said the 2014 tour was a massive milestone in his career for it helped him realise how tough Test cricket was.
“If I say that I wasn’t nervous in 2018, I would be lying. I was very nervous before the first Test began," Kohli said.
“But you know, 2014 is always going to be a milestone in my career. Lot of people take good tours as milestone, for me 2014 was a milestone. From there, I thought things could go bad for me very soon because the next big tour was Australia.
“I really had to sit down, change things about the way I thought and approached and played the game, and start being more fearless. Not in situations that seemed easy ; when you’re playing one-day cricket, invariably you know the situation you’re in and you prepare yourself and get motivated easily. It’s short and sharp, this is what you need to do, I’m going to do it, if it doesn’t happen so be it.
“But Test cricket, I realised when it gets tough, to maintain your composure is the most difficult thing for a cricketer. That was something I needed to correct in me. If that tour hadn’t happened, I would have continued the way I was and wouldn’t have improved. That tour made me think about how I need to approach my international career and do I just want to be a pushover in Test cricket."
Kohli said he went through the journey of being judged based on one series, conceding it troubled him a little bit.
“To be honest, I never really paid attention to these things about what people perceived me after 2014. Obviously it troubled me a little because all my credibility as a player went away in a month or so. So you do feel like … when you know you’re good enough, but you’re focusing too much on what people say about you, that can disappoint you. I went through that journey of my own and then stopped focusing on what people said about me and went into my own bubble and kept working on my game," he said.
“The great thing about 2018 was that I went in as a captain and player. I knew that conditions were going to be difficult and I want to lead from the front. That’s why I was nervous before the first game that I wanted to start well, not that 2018 was my chance for redemption. That wasn’t my mindset at all. I would have been pretty happy in contributing whatever I could to make the team win.
“The fact that I was able to do that for the team, if we look back at the series, the first three Tests were tight… even the fourth Test in Southampton, we lost the series in bad cricket for a very short period. The bad phase was very bad and it cost us. We weren’t too heartbroken about that series to be honest because we really really competed. The England team also knew that we were there to get that result and not show that we play here. Overall, it was a very confidence boosting series as a team and we went on to win in Australia. We learnt that we can do it and didn’t lose hope. It was a balanced series."