virat kohli at the scg in 2012
Virat Kohli (Getty Images)

One of the most infamous incidents from Virat Kohli‘s decade-long career occurred when, agitated by the continuous heckling from the crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground [SCG], he was captured flicking the finger during India’s Australia tour of 2011-12. It was just the sixth match of his infant Test career and the incident drew widespread attention.

Reminiscing the incident, Kohli, who now is the India captain across formats, revealed how he apologised to the match referee Ranjan Madugalle and asking him to not ban him.

“The one thing I remember most is when I’d had enough of the Australian crowd at Sydney [in 2012] and I just decided to flick a [middle] finger at them,” Kohli was quoted as saying by Wisden on Tuesday.

“The match referee called me to his room the next day and I’m like, ‘What’s wrong?’. He said, What happened at the boundary yesterday?’. I said, ‘Nothing, it was a bit of banter’. Then he threw the newspaper in front of me and there was this big image of me flicking on the front page and I said, ‘I’m so sorry, please don’t ban me!’. I got away with that one. He was a nice guy, he understood I was young and these things happen.”

Kohli was considered a hot-head during his early playing days, often indulging in verbal duels and exaggerated send-offs. Recalling those times, Kohli said even though he now laughs at them, he is proud that he expressed himself freely.

“I really laugh at a lot of the things I did when I was younger but I’m proud that I did not change my ways because I was always going to be who I am and not change for the world or for anyone else. I was pretty happy with who I was,” he said.

Kohli, 29, who is leading India in the ongoing five-Test series in England, said he sees it as his responsibility to prevent youngsters in the dressing room from repeating the mistakes he committed at the beginning of his own career.

“I look forward to guiding the young guys in the team to not make the same mistakes that probably I made when I was their age because I want them to have three more years of quality cricket compared to going up and down, struggling here and there and then finally finding their feet.

“If I see someone making the same mistakes that I committed and I cannot correct them, then it’s my failure. If I choose to stay quiet I’m not really doing my job. You don’t want to suffocate anyone but the mistakes I made early in my career, I would not like to see youngsters make them more than once, because that’s just wasting such an important phase of their lives and careers,” Kohli said.