Gautam Gambhir takes a jibe at Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni
Hero of India’s twin World Cup winning campaigns in 2007 and 2011, Gautam Gambhir has taken a dig at former national captains Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, and Kapil Dev, claiming that “hero worship” of these men has led to the creation of monsters in Team India’s (Indian cricket team) dressing room.
According to the cricketer-turned-politician, this culture of “hero worship” first began in India after the 1983 World Cup when Kapil Dev earned the status of a demigod in the country. Subsequently, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli joined the Haryana Hurricane in that club due to their extraordinary record on the turf.
Gautam Gambhir reckons that it was not just the fans who were responsible for neglecting other members of the Indian cricket team but also blamed the media and the broadcasters for playing a significant role in creating such a situation.
“Don’t create monsters in the dressing room. Only monster should be Indian cricket, not an individual,” Gautam Gambhir said during the ‘Idea Exchange’ show organized by the Indian Express newspaper.
“When Virat 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 added.
“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,” Gautam Gambhir elaborated.
“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 (Indian cricket team) 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,” the former India opener explained.
“Only the big contributions, unfortunately, make headlines. It’s the small contributions, which we never bothered about. How many people have spoken about Bhuvneshwar Kumar? No one. It was the same game, same opposition and everything was the same,” he stated.
“You called him for a 5-minute interview after the match. How long did you run it? Just because he’s not a brand. He must have also worked equally hard. He must have also come from a humble background. He also deserves the same appreciation and the same credit. But because he’s not sellable or probably doesn’t get the numbers or the TRP. Everything can’t be about numbers Everything can’t be TRP. If the marketing team cannot sell someone, it is their problem,” the left-hander who also captained the Indian cricket team opined.
“It takes effort to sell someone who comes from a small town. They [broadcasters] should probably work harder. Let’s not only blame one or two, it has been going on since 1983. That was something I was trying to do when I was at Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) when I was leading them for seven years — to start appreciating small contributions,” Gautam Gambhir noted.
“It will continue to continue similarly unless people start raising their voices. You guys can and should make a difference. Start contributing and appreciating small contributions, especially when it comes to sports because that is what Indian cricket needs. We need to move out of that shadow of 1983, 2007 and 2011. It’s done and dusted. That’s history,” Gambhir said. “Start talking about 2022 and 2023.”