The Adelaide Oval is somber. It is calm. It is reflectful. It is Phil Hughes.
The Australian captain has demonstrated leadership like the cricketing world has never seen before.
He owns the media. The world tunes in. Listening. Longing for help to find their way through this mess.
Clarke, on a wooden leg and a faulty back makes a century. Possibly the most important hundred ever made.
The perfect onfield tribute to his mate. The perfect display of leadership.
It transgressed the cricketing field.
However, another leader reveals himself during this Test match.
A 26 year old man who is captaining his team for the first time. A 26 year old man who has decided that he also needs to guide his team through this troubled time. A 26 year old man whom we never knew had this fight in him.
Virat Kohli made two centuries at Adelaide.
In one context, it is possible that they were the most irrelevant centuries ever made.
In another, they were the most important.
MS Dhoni was India. It was his team.
He was the chef, and only he decided what flavours and textures would reveal itself to the hungry Indian public.
Dhoni was a fighter. But he did it with the bat only. He rarely did it publicly with words and even less so in the field.
Kohli has taken this spirit and added layers of complexity that the cricketing world admires, yet strangely, is questioned at home.
For Kohli has decided that no longer will India be a whipping boy when travelling. No longer will they travel to England, win at Lord’s and then capitulate in the following three Tests. They will not come to Australia and lose 4-0.
The glitz and frivolity of the IPL will not define his team.
Kohli likes to use his mouth. We saw this during the test series last summer in Australia. He is not guarded at press conferences. He is the attack hound and he doesn’t care what you think.
If you shut your eyes, you can imagine players like Sreesanth and Harbhajan thriving in such environments.
ATTACK. ATTACK. ATTACK.
But is this the culture that his players will respond to?
Is Shikhar Dhawan a fighter or a lover?
What about Rahane and Mohammad Shami?
Will wicket-keeper Saha understand what is required of him?
When was the last time India had a skipper that spoke as dramatically as he played?
It wasn’t Dhoni. It wasn’t Dravid or Sachin or Azza.
England often speak of their “New Era”. But perhaps it is India who have truly embraced this theme, minus the public relations fanfare.
Team manager come commentator come coach come BCCI investigator Ravi Shastri is no shrinking violet. He doesn’t wilt in the hot sun.
Is he India’s Yoda, quietly supporting and encouraging Virat to drive change?
Will future young players be expected to fit in with this change in culture? Can the existing ones understand what this means?
Meanwhile, in Chennai, Virat Kohli is playing for India A against Australia A.
Indian Test captains don’t play for India A. Well, they never used to.
They certainly don’t play under someone elses captaincy. Well, they never used to.
Putting self below status was not an option. Well, it never used to be.
Kohli is training harder than anyone else.
He wants to be visible.
He wants to set the standard.
He cares for how his team presents itself.
He cares for what ethics the next generation embrace.
Virat Kohli is exactly the leader that India need.