Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith has raised doubts over India skipper Virat Kohli's leadership skills, saying he was not sure whether the 29-year-old is a long-term option to lead India. Smith, who is South Africa's most successful captain, said Kohli needs "someone in the support staff who can constructively challenge him and help him grow".
"I don't know, when I look at him, if he is a long-term captaincy option for India," Smith was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
"When I look at Virat, I think he needs someone in the support staff who can constructively challenge him and help him grow," Smith, who was speaking at an event in Johannesburg, said.
The 36-year-old former opening batsman for South Africa said Kohli sets high standards in the field but his ideas need to be challenged.
"He has all the capabilities tactically, he knows his own game, he sets the standard in the field for everyone else.
"I think if he had a really constructive person in his environment, who could talk to him, make him think, maybe even challenge him with some different ideas, in a constructive way, not an angry or aggressive way, but make him think, open his eyes to other possibilities, that would make him a really good leader."
"At the end of this year, he'd have been away from home for a while, the pressure he'll face, the scrutiny from the press - I know he only gets that in India - but if you're away from home and you're struggling for form as a team, I don't know if I'd want to burden Virat Kohli with that... Or if India have a better leader in that environment," he said.
Smith, who scored over 9000 runs in Test cricket, lauded Kohli's attitude but said his aggression can also have a negative impact on the other players.
"We all know he's an outstanding player, his intensity really benefits his own personal game, he loves that confrontation, that intensity brings the best out of him. Sometimes as a leader you've got to consider how you impact the others in the environment, that's an area of his leadership that he needs to grow. You can see, he's often at his players. He's very aware, he's focus on the game is on, sweeping or mid-on.
"[But] often his reaction to situations... I think that can sometimes impact on your team negatively. We all know how powerful Virat Kohli is in world cricket, in Indian cricket. For him, he's built this aura and for him maybe to find a level where he can connect with all his players, to get to a level where can get the Indian team to be as successful as he is, that's something that he, when I watch him, is grappling with," he said.
Kohli lost his first Test series as captain after India went down 2-0 in the ongoing three-match Test series against South Africa. The third and the final Test of the series starts on January 24 in Johannesburg.
Before this, India enjoyed an unbeaten run in their last nine Test series. However, most of the victories came in favorable conditions in the sub-continent.
India are scheduled to travel to England in mid this year and to Australia at the end of the year.