Former India opener Gautam Gambhir, who played a pivotal role in India’s triumphs at the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 ICC World Cup, is candid about the issue of ‘hero worship’ in Indian cricket. Speaking to The Indian Express when asked about the subject, Gambhir gave examples of Virat Kohli and Bhuvneshwar Kumar from the match against Afghanistan in the recently concluded Asia Cup.
The match Gambhir referred to was a dead rubber as both Sri Lanka and Pakustan had already cemented their respective places in the final. India recorded a huge win in the match with Virat Kohli and Bhuvneshwar Kumar as headliners.
Kohli scored his first T20I century, which was also his first in international cricket in nearly three years. The knock was cheered by all and as a result, Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s five-wicket haul went completely unnoticed.
Gambhir said the culture of “hero worship” leads to these problems.
“When Kohli got a 100 and there was a young guy from a small town Meerut (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) who also managed to get five wickets, no one bothered to talk about him. This was such a shame. I was the only one, during that comment period, to say that. He bowled four overs and got five wickets and I don’t think anyone knows. But Kohli scores a 100 and there are celebrations all over this country. India must get out of this hero worship. Whether it’s Indian cricket, whether it’s political, whether it’s Delhi cricket. We must stop worshiping heroes. All we have to worship is Indian cricket, or for that matter Delhi or India.
“Who made that? It is created by two things. Firstly by social media followers which is probably the most fake in this country as you are judged by how many followers you have. That’s what creates a brand,” Gambhir said.
“Second, by the media and broadcasters. If you keep talking about one person day in and day out, it will eventually become a brand. That’s how it was in 1983. Why start from Dhoni? It started in 1983. When India won the first World Cup, everything revolved around Kapil Dev. When we won in 2007 and 2011, it was Dhoni. Who made that? None of the players did. Neither does the BCCI. Have the news channels and broadcasters ever talked about Indian cricket? Did we ever say that Indian cricket should flourish? There are more than two or three people who have an interest in Indian cricket. They don’t rule Indian cricket, they shouldn’t rule Indian cricket. Indian cricket should be ruled by the 15 people sitting in that locker room. Everyone has a contribution to make … … I’ve never been able to follow anyone in my life. And that has been my biggest problem. The media and broadcasters create a brand, nobody else creates a brand,” he added.
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