Ex-Aussie Test player apologises to Indian skipper
FORMER Australian cricketer Brad Hodge has apologised to Virat Kohli for comments he made about the Indian captain.
Kohli pulled out of the fourth Test against the Aussies in Dharamsala with a shoulder injury he suffered while fielding in the third match in Ranchi, leading Hodge to question the 28-year-old.
"You would think that your captain would get out there and get amongst the fight and get in there," Hodge said. "You'd hope as a sportsman that he's seriously injured.
"Because if you miss one game of Test match cricket and you're fronting up the next week for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) versus whoever ... you'd be pretty dirty if he didn't front up to a Test match and try and win a valuable series against Australia."
When pressed on whether Kohli could be ensuring he is fit and firing for the IPL, Hodge was forthright.
"It's happened before," Hodge said. "Not just Virat but there's many players that have come up to IPL time and ... look, we know it's a cash-rich tournament, there's some money up for grabs.
"There are certain players that will limp in, to IPL time, to make sure they get there and perform well."
Hodge copped plenty of flak for insinuating there may have been sinister motives behind Kohli's absence and realised he erred in his judgment, posting an apology to Kohli and Indian cricket fans on his Twitter account.
"As a professional sportsperson who has represented his country, I certainly understand what it means to step out on a cricket field donning your nation's colours. It is the highest honour a sportsperson can ask for," Hodge wrote.
"Keeping that in mind, I take this opportunity to apologise to the people of India, cricket fans, the Indian national cricket team and particularly Virat Kohli for my previous comments.
"My intention was never to harm, criticise or be derogatory towards anyone. They were intended to be light-hearted comments with the utmost respect to the Indian Premier League, which I have thoroughly enjoyed through the years.
"The public and fans have every right to be upset and the backlash I have received has certainly driven the point home.
"Again, I am deeply apologetic to the country which has bought (sic) me so much joy, and its inspirational leader in Virat Kohli, to whom I mean no ill-intention and respect highly as professional."
Former Indian Test player Gautam Gambhir was one of those who rubbished the 42-year-old's assertion Kohli may have been preserving himself for the lucrative T20 tournament.
"That's absolutely not valid," Gambhir told CNN. "I feel that someone who's playing for their country and captaining it would never want to miss a Test match and would definitely want to play for India more than any other tournament. That's always been the case.
"Knowing Virat he would have never done that and these people, look if you want to be in the headline you can say anything you want and it's just about making a headline or trying to get your name in the press by making such statements.
"If you don't know the extent of the injury you should not be talking about it."
Kohli played the archetypal villain in the series against Australia. He all but called the Australians cheats (though he was careful not to use the word), continually sledged Steve Smith's men and accused his opponents of making fun of the Indian physio.
After the last Test he reportedly refused to share a beer with the Aussies and said previous friendships with them were now non-existent.
That behaviour has made Kohli public enemy No.1 in Australia. But during the final Test Gambhir said he had done nothing wrong and was being unfairly targeted.
"You should stop targeting one or two individuals, in a team sport there's no point targeting one or two individuals, you should talk about the cricket," Gambhir said.
"Taking someone individually or blaming someone individually or personally is something which should not work ... it's very immature."