Former India cricketer and a two-time World Cup winner, Gautam Gambhir, has called out the 'hero worship' in the Indian cricket scene among fans, media and the broadcasters themselves. Gambhir pointed out how this phenomenon started in 1983 when India won the World Cup.
This has led the fans to celebrate stars like Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Kapil Dev ahead of the contributions from other members of the team. Speaking on the Indian Express show called Idea Exchange, Gambhir opened up about his approach to politics before talking about cricket when he was asked about brand-creation in Indian cricket.
Gambhir referenced India’s recent match against Afghanistan in Asia Cup earlier this month as he talked about celebrating wins as a team instead of creating individual greats. He said, "Don’t create monsters in the dressing room. Only monster should be Indian cricket, not an individual. 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."
“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.
“Who created that? It is created by two things. First, 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."
Gambhir further dissected the "hero worship" culture which has been seen across Indian cricket since 1983 when Kapil Dev was made into the country’s biggest star. He further pointed out that the same thing took place in 2007 and 2011 when India won the T20 World Cup and the ODI World Cup, respectively under MS Dhoni.
“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."