When Virat Kohli had announced that he would be taking a break to be with his wife in the Test Series against Australia in the land down under, the reactions from fans were mixed.
It also created quite a buzz in the cricketing world as cricket hardliners felt that Captain
Kohli’s first duty was towards the nation, and that was more important than being with his family. Comparisons were instantly drawn with Dhoni, who had opted to play on in the 2015 World Cup when wife Shakshi gave birth to daughter Ziva. Kohli must have
breathed a huge sigh of relief when India managed to win the series without him. In fact, ironically, India had lost the first Test under Kohli’s captaincy.
But isn’t it ridiculous that a man is supposed to put his nation before his family?
Firstly, if a man cannot take care of his family there is no way he can do any work for the country, which is a huge family by itself. Besides, this is sport and not war. Cricket is a team game and not about individuals anyway. Also, why are there concessions when there is a death in someone’s family but not during childbirth?
No one batted an eyelid when Sachin Tendulkar returned home from the World Cup after his father’s death. The point is, our cricketers can only join their families avoiding national duty during sad times, but not to celebrate happy occasions. That’s a bit strange isn’t it?
Incidentally, when Virat lost his father he was playing for Delhi in the Ranji trophy. As his father had supported and shared Virat’s love for cricket, Virat decided to play on and only left after the match for his father’s last rites. In fact, Virat’s decision to take paternity leave was a landmark one and he should be applauded for opting family first.
This was such a difficult decision for him, and he has also taught such an important lesson to all of us. While most of us actually talk about equal shared responsibility, Virat actually displayed it by sacrificing the passion of his life, Cricket! This speaks volumes for the man to stand by his lady at her moment of need. It takes balls to choose family over nation while batting for India as cricket and religion are the nation’s favourite hobbies. Fans expect you to have no life of your own and expect you to keep on winning no matter what. It’s commendable that someone like Virat Kohli has showed everyone
This should actually be a precedent with most Indian companies who do not believe in paternity leave. As a society, how are we expected to progress if we keep harping about women’s rights and equal shared parenting and how WE are pregnant if we deny paternity
leave to the male? This proves that we are still rooted in patriarchal thinking that pregnancy and childbirth are the woman’s domain where the male does not have a significant role to play. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee, and it’s simply outstanding that the leading sportsperson from India has done this. This is not the first
time Virat has advocated something like this. He was one of the first cricketers to express a keen interest in participating in cricket matches where members of both sexes played.
But even then, Virat had to explain his actions to his fans via a video message shared by the BCCI. Even Virat had to spell things out and explain to the fans why his paternity leave was so important as he would have to quarantine in both countries because of the pandemic and wouldn’t be able to be with his family immediately as his wife gave birth. It’s about time we realize as a cricketing nation that our cricketers are not the demi-gods they are sometimes perceived to be but normal human beings just like us who are doing a job to support their families. Hence, families come first to them just like all of us.
Thankfully, Virat has received a lot of praise from many quarters for his decision and even his teammates have congratulated him for this step. This is an encouraging trend. There is no doubt that Virat will be a terrific father too. As a nation, we must also understand a simple fact. The progress of a nation is heavily dependent on the development of women in that country. If we alienate and deny one half of our workforce to domestic duties, we can never hope to progress and develop as a nation. But for women to emerge as a strong, efficient and capable work force they need all the support they can from their male
counterparts. That’s where equal shared parenting comes into play and most men have to realize that a man is not emasculated if he is involved in all aspects of parenting and playing the role of a mother in her absence or presence. It is a known fact that all the women in India will be unanimous in their applause for Virat Kohli for standing by his wife in her hour of need.
The real change will happen when all the men in this country stand up and applaud such an act instead of applauding when Virat scores a century.
After India won the series, coach Ravi Shastri made an interesting point when asked how India still managed to win the series despite Virat’s absence. “Don’t forget that this is Virat’s team!” he had said.
“Virat is the one who build this team, and we dedicate this victory to
Indian cricket has finally matured and come of age in both thought and action. Amen to that!
Do you think Virat Kohli made the right decision to take paternity leave and be with his family when India was playing a vital test series? Write in to us with your views and suggestions. We’d love to hear from you!