Cricket star's baby decision is a step forward for all fathers

Photos: Getty Images and Instagram
Photos: Getty Images and Instagram 

"Congratulations on the birth of your daughter Nicole. Born this afternoon."

They were the words emblazoned across the scoreboard at the Sydney Cricket Ground to inform then Australian Captain Allan Border his daughter had arrived safely while he helped his team fight for a draw against India on the pitch. 

That was in January 1986. Fast forward to 2020 and, thankfully, a lot has changed. 

So it really shouldn't come as a surprise that Indian Captain Virat Kohli will return home after just one test in Australia this summer to be with wife Anushka Sharma, who is due to give birth to the couple's first child in January.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

And then, we were three! Arriving Jan 2021 ❤️🙏

A post shared by AnushkaSharma1588 (@anushkasharma) on

"At the selection committee meeting held on October 26th, 2020, Mr Virat Kohli had informed the BCCI about his plans to return to India after the first Test in Adelaide," the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) said in a statement announcing the news this week.

"The BCCI has granted paternity leave to the Indian captain."

Thankfully, the announcement was met with support from many fans who praised Kohli for putting his family first and pointed out there would be many more games of cricket he will play, but only one chance to be at the birth of his child.

But, of course, others took to Twitter to slam Kohli's decision. 

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The fact that anyone in 2020 would criticise a father's determination to do whatever it takes to be at the birth of his child is as sad as it is ignorant.

Not only does it fail to acknowledge that a dad's presence in the delivery room is an experience he can never repeat, but it also diminishes the role he plays in supporting his partner before, during and after the baby's birth. Sadly, things don't always go smoothly during childbirth, and sometimes it's only a partner's presence that can provide the sort of reassurance needed. 

The comments also show a lack of appreciation for how far the role and expectations of fathers have come in the last three decades.

Back when Border looked up at the SCG scoreboard to learn about the birth of his daughter, paternity leave was not a thing. Fortunately, it is now, and that's great for all dads - including sports stars. For that we should be thankful. 

Let's not allow a game of cricket - no matter how important - prevent an excited soon-to-be-dad  from being right where he wants to be when his wife gives birth. That would be huge step backward for everyone.