Former India batsman Gautam Gambhir has hit out at the media and fans for ‘hero worship’ of a few cricketers like Kapil Dev, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli and ignoring the contributions of others to Indian cricket’s success from winning the 1983 World Cup to till date.
“Don’t create monsters in the dressing room. Only monster should be Indian cricket, not an individual,” Gambhir, who is now a BJP MP, said at Indian Express’ Idea Exchange event.
“Do you think that this whole hero worship chokes the next star to come up? Nobody has grown in that shadow. It was Mahendra Singh Dhoni earlier, it is Virat Kohli now,” he added.
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Gambhir, a two-time World Cup winner, questioned the media and fans as to why they had to celebrate only Kohli’s 71st international hundred during the Asia Cup recently and not the five-wicket haul by Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the same game against Afghanistan.
“When Kohli got a 100 and there was this young guy from a small town of Meerut (Bhuvneshwar Kumar), who also managed to get five wickets, no one even bothered to speak about him. This was so unfortunate. I was the only one, during that commentary stint, who said that. He bowled four overs and got five wickets and I don’t think anyone knows about that.
“But Kohli scores a 100 and there are celebrations everywhere in this country. India needs to come out of this hero worship. Whether it’s Indian cricket, whether it’s politics, whether it’s Delhi cricket. We have to stop worshipping heroes. The only thing that we need to worship is Indian cricket, or for that matter Delhi or India,” he said.
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According to Gambhir, ‘hero worship’ is created by social media followers who he called “fakest thing” in India and media.
“Who created that? It is created by two things. First, by social media followers, which is probably the fakest thing in this country because you are judged by how many followers you have. That is what creates a brand. Second, by the media and the broadcasters,” he said.
He continued, “If you keep talking about one person day in and day out, it eventually becomes a brand. That is how it was in 1983. Why start from Dhoni? It started in 1983. When India won the first World Cup, it was all about Kapil Dev. When we won in 2007 and 2011, it was Dhoni. Who created that? None of the players did. Nor did the BCCI. Have the news channels and broadcasters ever spoken about Indian cricket? Have we ever spoken that Indian cricket needs to flourish? There are more than two or three people who are stakeholders of Indian cricket.
“They don’t rule Indian cricket, they should not be ruling Indian cricket. Indian cricket should be ruled by the 15 people sitting in that dressing 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 the broadcasters create a brand, no one else creates a brand.”
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While criticising ‘hero worship’ in Indian cricket, Gambhir, who has captained Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to two IPL titles, did not mention Sachin Tendulkar, the biggest cricketer worshipped in the country.