The first time I registered Virat Kohli was in the Titan Fast Track commercials. I wondered who that slick dresser was getting to grips with bags and chicks, most probably in that order. He looked frankly like a smart piece of rough trade, though gradually over time he tidied up and I realised that the model man was Virat Kohli. Which was probably around the time that he was sweeping up cricket pitches and the opposition with his bat. And then gradually the Virat phenomenon swept the country.
So much so that in the recent Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) match at Eden Gardens, he had a following of Kolkata fans who were heartbroken when he walked. His relationship with Anushka Sharma and his gallant response to those trolling her too are well documented. So perhaps it is time for a book like this. A book that actually sounds like a management treatise from the title. Abhirup Bhattacharya has put together Winning like Virat: Think and Succeed like Kohli.
In a sense the book is an analyisis of the traits that make Kohli. He was a cricketer whose debut was far from impressive — he scored only 10, 12 and 19 in his opening domestic ODI and Test Matches. But then the tide turned and Virat was suddenly the greatest batsman in the world.
He also displayed an enviable gamut of skills — the ability to keep calm under pressure, good leadership and man management. Bhattacharya uses similes that today’s generation will vibe with — Virat’s growth, he writes, is like that of Facebook and Virat is someone who understands the social media well — the prime example being the Anushka Sharma trolling incident. Virat’s tweet on that occasion was voted the most influential tweet of 2016, resulting in over 39,000 retweets and a boost for the brand Virat’s goodwill.
What we are given is the portrait of a cricketer who is aware of the way the modern media works and who knows that his popularity and his skill are dependant on how he handles situations on and off the pitch. For students Kohli becomes a prime example of management confidence. Behind him is a team handling his presence on social media and guiding him in areas of social responsibility as well.
Of late yes, brand Virat has suffered losses — the brush with the Australians in Dharamsala which resulted in a new low between India and Australia cricketing relations. Or the loss at Eden Gardens. In October 2016, Kohli’s brand value was priced at $ 92 million, second only to Shahrukh Khan’s $131 million. There is every likelihood that the value has skyrocketed since then as books like this will testify. Kohli himself says that he is usually pegged in his fashion brand appearances as someone who is wrong but that usually turns out all right. He is someone who debates the ordinary. The brand machine now charges `s 4-5 crore a day for appearances and endorsements. Kohli has also been smart about his investments. Bhattacharya has gone through Kohli’s success with a toothcomb, batting averages and all, creating a slim volume that every management guy will leaf through, hoping to find the secret of becoming a Virat. He also uses examples from the corporate world to underline the significance of what he is saying — a comparison between Steve Jobs and Kohli for example.
Some people might find it far-fetched but the concept is interesting. Bhattacharya doesn’t call Kohli the CEO of cricket for nothing.
Anjana Basu is the author of Rhythms of Darkness