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Indian Premier League 2023

Virat Kohli on not winning ICC trophies: I was considered a failed captain, but I never judged myself

Virat Kohli on not winning an ICC trophy during his captaincy career
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Virat Kohli, speaking on the Royal Challengers Bangalore Podcast, has said that he was considered a “failed captain” for India not winning any ICC trophy during his captaincy tenure, but insisted he did not judge himself from a trophy point of view.

Kohli is India’s most successful Test captain, leading the side to 40 wins – the most for India and the fourth-most by a captain in the format’s history. During his tenure, India also reached the top of the Test rankings, holding on to the spot for 42 months straight. In ODIs, India won 65 out of 95 games under his leadership, and in T20Is led the side to 30 victories from 50 matches.

While Kohli’s tenure has been largely looked at as a progressive shift in Indian cricket, critics have often cited the lack of ICC titles as a gaping hole in a celebrated reign. The Delhi player led India in the 2017 Champions Trophy, the 2019 World Cup, the 2021 World Test Championship final and then the 2021 T20 World Cup.


When asked by host Danish Sait if, at any level, it “pinched him” that he didn’t win an ICC trophy, Kohli said: “You play to win tournaments, but a lot was made of it, to be honest. I captained in the Champions Trophy 2017, I captained 2019 World Cup, I captained Test Championship 2021, so after three ICC tournaments already I was…”

“That’s just three games you lost,” Sait said.

“I mean we lost the last T20 World Cup [2021], we didn’t qualify,” Kohli continued. “We reached the finals of the 2017 Champions Trophy, semis of [2019] World Cup and final of the [2021] World Test Championship and I was considered a failed captain.”

“Look, I never judged myself from that point of view,” Kohli explained. “What we ended up achieving as a team and as a cultural change for me will always be a matter of pride. A tournament happens for a certain period of time, but a culture happens over a long period of time. For that, you need consistency, for that you need more character than just winning tournaments.”

Kohli went on to state that he was grateful to have won numerous accomplishments as a player, and looks at what went right for him, instead of what went wrong.

“I have won a World Cup [2011] as a player, a Champions Trophy [2013] as a player. I have been part of a team that has won five Test maces. If you look at it from that point of view, there have been people who have never won the World Cup. I am always grateful for what I have.

“I was lucky enough to be part of the team [in 2011], to be honest. And what led to my selection was also amazing. I had a run of great scores and I ended up being in the team. I never expected it to happen. When things are meant to be, they are meant to be. There were people in the team, as Sachin Tendulkar – he was playing his sixth World Cup. And I was able to be a part of the team the first time, and be a part of the winning side.”

“If I had to look at what’s gone wrong in my career, but I look at what’s gone right and I am grateful for that. I am not mad for my trophy cabinet to be full. To be, that has always been a by-product of how you conduct yourself, the kind of discipline you have, and how you are striving towards excellence on a daily basis, and I feel I have been very honest to that aspect of the game.”

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