Gautam Gambhir urges countrymen to get past hero-worship culture Photograph:( AFP )
Gautam Gambhir believes that this culture, which dates back to 1983 when India won the ODI World Cup at Lord’s, has led to fans hailing stars like Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, and Kapil Dev to such an extent that they forget or undervalue the contributions of other cricketers.
Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir, who was part of the MS Dhoni-led Indian team’s victorious run in the 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 ODI World Cup, has criticised the hero-worship culture present among Indian cricket fans. Gambhir slammed the culture and said that Indian cricket fans, media and broadcasters shouldn’t create monsters in the dressing room by idolising individuals and forgetting the contributions of other players.
The 40-year-old Gambhir believes that this culture, which dates back to 1983 when India won the ODI World Cup at Lord’s, has led to fans lauding stars such as Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, and Kapil Dev to such an extent that they forget or undervalue the contributions of other team members.
“Don’t create monsters in the dressing room. Only monster should be Indian cricket, not an individual,” Gambhir told the Indian Express on their show Idea Exchange. “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,” the former southpaw added.
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Backing his claims, Gambhir gave an example of the India-Afghanistan Asia Cup clash, which was headlined by Kohli by virtue of his 71st international century. He believes Kohli took all the limelight due to the hero-worship culture and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (who returned with 5 for 4)’s contributions got completely neglected. “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,” Gambhir explained.
The former Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) skipper Gambir further asserted, “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. 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,” added Gambhir.
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