Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith on Tuesday questioned Virat Kohli's leadership credentials, saying he was not sure whether the 29-year-old was a long-term option to lead the Indian cricket team. "I don't know, when I look at him, if he is a long-term captaincy option for India," Smith said during an event ahead of the 3rd Test at the Wanderers. Smith, who was handed the South African captaincy at the age of 22, said Kohli needed to take all his teammates along with him. "You can be the best player in the world, and you love that intensity and you often don't think what your team-mates are going through," he said.
The former left-hander feels Kohli's opinion goes unchallenged in the Indian dressing room and the team would be served better if there was opposing view.
"I think if he had a really constructive person in his environment, who could talk to him, make him think, maybe even challenge him with some different ideas, in a constructive way, not an angry or aggressive way, but make him think, open his eyes to other possibilities, that would make him a really good leader," Smith said.
Smith went on to state that Kohli's reactions on the field could end up impacting his teammates negatively.
"[But] often his reaction to situations... I think that can sometimes impact on your team negatively. We all know how powerful Virat Kohli is in world cricket, in Indian cricket. For him, he's built this aura and for him maybe to find a level where he can connect with all his players, to get to a level where can get the Indian team to be as successful as he is, that's something that he, when I watch him, is grappling with," he added.
Smith said the Indian team management needed to assess whether Kohli had too much on his plate.
"At the end of this year, he'd have been away from home for a while, the pressure he'll face, the scrutiny from the press - I know he only gets that in India - but if you're away from home and you're struggling for form as a team, I don't know if I'd want to burden Virat Kohli with that... Or if India have a better leader in that environment," he said.
India will seek to avoid a series whitewash when they play South Africa in the third and final Test at the Wanderers Stadium, starting on Wednesday.
Kohli himself has happy memories of the ground, having scored 119 and 96 in the drawn first Test in 2013/14 when South Africa, set to make a world record 458 to win, finished on 450 for seven, in a match which showed that batsmen can prosper at the Wanderers once the initial sting is drawn from the surface.
(With inputs from AFP)