Virat Kohli has admitted that his intensity and energy levels are waning as a direct consequence of his age, and has revealed that he is currently at a stage in his career where he finds it difficult to keep himself motivated for matches that are not marquee clashes.
34 now, Kohli is into the 17th year of his professional career, having made his first-class debut way back in 2006 as a 18-year-old. The former Indian skipper has been vocal about physical and mental burnout and last year, in lead-up to the T20 World Cup, took time off from the game which proved beneficial as he roared back to form in the Asia Cup, his first tournament back from the break, before finishing the T20 World Cup in Australia as the competition’s highest run-getter.
In the ‘360 show’ featuring AB de Villiers, Kohli admitted that ‘it’s definitely tougher than it once used to be’ but revealed that he’s found a way to professionally approach every single game, to ensure that his levels don’t drop off.
“At this stage of my career, I get very excited for a big series or a big tournament. The games that happen in-between, obviously your energy and intensity is not the same,” Kohli said in the 360 show.
“So it did bother me quite a bit in the past few months but then I started taking the games in between very professionally.
“I started focusing on ‘what can I get out of this game as a batsman? Are there things that I’m looking to work on my game? Can I go out there and actually execute those things while being in the middle of the action?’
“That gave me a small goal to work towards. Even in the field, it’s a mental switch. When you mentally switch on as a fielder, your body starts moving completely differently.
“I think lot of self-talk is important. When the occasion is not pulling you up to the mark, you have to speak to yourself and get yourself up to the mark so that you can maintain the same standards that you have for so many years.
“It’s definitely tougher than it once used to be, in the late 20s even.”
‘Wasn’t happy with what I was producing at the Test level’
In the same show, Kohli opened up on his Test form and admitted that he was disappointed with his returns. In Ahmedabad last week, Kohli posted his highest score in Test cricket in nearly four years but prior to that knock, he’d gone through a lean period in which he averaged 26.20 across 20 Tests.
Kohli revealed that he was annoyed with the fact that he wasn’t performing to the best of his abilities in red-ball cricket, and added that getting to the ton gave him a ‘sense of calm, relaxation and excitement’.
“Even though I had performed in T20Is, even though I had scored ODI centuries, I always felt like white-ball cricket for me was more or less a thing where if you just go into the right frame of mind on a particular or a certain amount of time in the game, you can get over the hurdle that’s in front of you,” Kohli said.
“In Test cricket, even on a wicket that’s not offering much for the bowlers, you still have to bat for 7-8 hours sometimes. The bowlers sometimes go defensive and keep testing you constantly. That is something I cherish as a cricketer.
“I was getting decent scores but if you ask me if I was happy with what I was doing, I wasn’t. I pride myself on performing for my team to the best of my ability and I certainly wasn’t doing that enough. So I wanted to score big runs. That’s something that propelled me whenever we played home or away.
“I was doing that to a certain level but I wasn’t creating the same kind of impact I was doing before. So when I got that ton (in Ahmedabad) and made it a big one, that gave me a sense of calm, relaxation and excitement.
“You kinda became comfortable with your space again. That’s the kind of space you want to be in and I think that particular hundred gave me those grounding feelings back.”