Indian captain Virat Kohli received the ICC 'Spirit of Cricket' award for his gesture towards Australia's Steve Smith during the 2019 World Cup. During the group match against Australia, Virat Kohli appealed to the crowd not to boo Steve Smith during the first innings, which drew appreciation for the Indian captain from fans and former cricketers. Smith, too, acknowledged the gesture on the field.
Steve Smith was making a return to the Australian side after facing a one-year ban on ball-tampering charges, which led to fans turning hostile against him and the side's opening batsman David Warner.
Virat Kohli reacted to winning the award, saying that it is the 'part of camaraderie' that sportsmen share.
"It is part of camaraderie that sportsmen must have with each other," Kohli said.
"That moment was purely understanding an individual's situation. I don't think a guy who is coming out of a situation like that needs to be taken advantage of," he recalled.
"You can sledge, can have have banter on the field, you say things to the opposition in wanting to beat them. But booing someone is not in the spirit of any sport, I don't endorse it."
The BCCI also took to Twitter to congratulate Kohli upon receiving the award.
"#TeamIndia Captain Virat Kohli is the winner of the 2019 ICC Spirit of Cricket Award for his heart warming gesture to ask the fans to not boo Steve Smith in #CWC19 game against Australia," wrote BCCI.
Virat Kohli was also named the captain of the ICC ODI and Test teams of the year for 2019. The ODI team of the year also included Rohit Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Kuldeep Yadav. Rohit was named the ICC ODI Player of the Year.
With the bat, Virat had a stellar 2019, as he ended as the second-highest run-getter in ODIs, behind fellow teammate Rohit Sharma. He scored 1377 runs in 26 matches, slamming five centuries and seven half-centuries.
As captain, the 31-year-old led India to the semifinals of the 2019 World Cup, where the side faced an 18-run defeat to New Zealand. In the longest format, however, team India dominated the year with series victory in Australia, and enjoyed an unbeaten home season, registering victories against South Africa and Bangladesh.
India currently sit at the top of the World Test Championship table, with 360 points in seven matches.
Virat Kohli is currently leading the side in the three-match ODI series against Australia.