When Virat Kohli scored his elusive 71st century, the entire country erupted in raucous celebration. It felt like a weight was lifted from the shoulders of legions of fans across the country. While the celebration of the century by the fans was right and deserved, it overshadowed another brilliant performance by one of the players in the side. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar wreaked havoc in the batting ranks of the Afghanistan side, ripping them to shreds as he went on his way to his career best figures of 5 wickets for just 4 runs in his quota of 4 overs.
Gautam Gambhir feels that Bhuvi’s feat went virtually unnoticed because of the rampant culture of ‘hero worship’ in Indian cricket which is prevalent for a very long time. Gambhir is of the opinion that not only fans, but even the likes of broadcasters and media are also well and truly immersed in this trend, which leads to important contributions of other key members of the side being less appreciated, even disregarded in some respects.
The former India opener, who played a key role in the 2011 World Cup final with his 97, but was overshadowed by MS Dhoni’s 91, says that such behaviour ensures that there is a constant shadow on the new and upcoming cricketers, and that restricts them from truly blossoming into something special, because it comes the natural progression of the player.
Gambhir also added that it is high time that people should stop “creating monsters in the dressing room”, and that the only monster that should be present must be Indian Cricket. He then went on to elaborate the Kohli and Bhuvneshwar issue.
He said, “When Kohli got a 100, and there was this guy from a small town in Meerut, who got 5 wickets in the same game, no one even bothered to speak about it. Only I was the one who spoke about it in my commentary stint. He bowled 4 overs and got his wickets, but no one really is aware of it. But Kohli scored a hundred, and there were celebrations everywhere. We need to come out of this trend of Hero Worship, be it in Indian cricket, politics, or Delhi cricket. The only thing we need to worship is Indian cricket”.
He adds that this is created by social media, since everything in the modern world is decided by how many followers you have, because that is what creates a brand. He also says that this behaviour is prevalent right since 1983, when Kapil Dev won the World Cup. That is where he blames the media and the broadcasters, labelling them as the second factor for hero worship in cricket.
He says, “If you keep speaking about a particular person day in and day out, he becomes a brand. That’s how it was in 1983. Why start from Dhoni?. It started in 1983. When Kapil Dev won it, it was all about him. When we won it in 2007 and 2011, it then became about Dhoni. Who did this?, It wasn’t the players, and neither the BCCI. The news media talks about everything except the fact that Indian cricket needs to flourish”, he opined.
Gambhir finally concludes by saying that cricket has more than two or three stakeholders, and the game should not be ruled by 2-3 people, but it should be ruled by the 15 people in the dressing room, because everyone has a contribution to make for the bigger cause.
Do you think that Gambhir was right in making this statement? Or do you think that this was just a ploy to stay relevance? We’ll have to wait and see on that one.