Virat Kohli has embarrassed cricket. Repeatedly.
His run-ins with Australians date back to 2012, when he was fined half of his match fee for giving the finger to the SCG crowd.
Since then, he has been involved in a stack of on-field confrontations, been slapped with fines and said he doesn’t respect some Australians.
That much is clear.
But while Kohli doesn’t care how his behaviour looks, someone should.
Someone who has the best interests of the game at heart. Someone who can suspend him.
After the hotly contested second Test against Australia in Bangalore, Kohli went as far as to accuse a fellow captain, in fact the opposition as a whole, of cheating, once again having no regard for the impact of his actions.
He said that Australia had, on multiple occasions, looked to their dressing room for advice on whether to use the Decision Review System, an allegation that, if unproven, should land him in serious hot water.
Unfortunately, there are former players and commentators who would have us believe that Kohli’s antics are all part of the game and that they “love his passion”.
Talk about being facilitators for someone with a serious problem.
As Kohli said on Tuesday, he has 1.2 billion Indians on his side, meaning everyone else can take a flying leap.
That was in response to comments from former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy that Kohli’s behaviour is “unacceptable” and that he was “losing respect” for India’s combustible captain.
The other part of his response was that Healy had once lost his temper after getting what he thought was a poor umpiring decision and that journalists should look it up on YouTube.
How typically petty and typically deflective.
Kohli is extremely quick to accuse others of anything, but refuses to acknowledge that he is far from a perfect cricketer, let alone a good representative for the sport.
And as for any “spirit of cricket”, look elsewhere, because Kohli thinks spirit is spelt “spite”.
Not only does he repeatedly scream obscenities at departing batsmen, he is also often demonstrably and physically aggressive in his gestures and his movements.
More than a few times, he has deliberately put himself in the “space” of batsmen and even umpires.
The umpires have made several token efforts to get him to show a little more restraint in this current series and on each occasion he has nodded, looked somewhat contrite, even patted the umpires on their shoulders as if to say “I get it, no problem”, only to repeat the exact same over-the-top behaviour at the next opportunity.
We know that India thinks it is above sanction as it is bigger than the game.
Threatening to take their bat and ball and go home mid-tour after Harbhajan Singh allegedly racially vilified Andrew Symonds in early 2008, in what became known as “monkeygate”, made that perfectly clear.
That the International Cricket Council bowed to the Indian board’s pressure and downgraded the three-match ban imposed on the volatile spinner to a fine of half his match fee really did show who is boss.
Little wonder, then, that India and its representatives – led by this superbly talented batsman – show no respect for opponents, officials or the game itself.
Yes, some players enjoy using sledging and others like to give a batsman a pointed send-off after claiming his wicket, but most of those instances are proportional to the action or situation.
Kohli, on the other hand, is out of control.
If the ICC doesn’t impose a ban of at least one match, there will be no reining in cricket’s most volatile leader.
Murray Brust has been covering international sport in a variety of roles for nearly three decades.