Former India opener Gautam Gambhir, who captained Kolkata Knight Riders to two Indian Premier League (IPL) trophies in 2012 and 2014, feels that the introduction of the tournament has been the best thing to have ever happened to Indian cricket in the last couple of years.
“IPL is the best thing that has happened to Indian cricket. I can say this with all my senses. There has been a lot of backlash regarding IPL since it started. Every time Indian cricket does not do well, the blame comes on IPL, which is not fair. If we don’t perform well in ICC tournaments, blame the players, blame the performance, but it is unfair to point fingers at the IPL,” Gambhir said on the sidelines of the TURF2022 & India Sports Awards of FICCI on Saturday.
Gambhir, who represented India in 58 Tests, 147 ODIs, and 37 T20Is, apart from 154 IPL matches, threw light on how there is financial security among players due to the advent of the IPL. “A sportsman can only earn till he is 35-36. IPL provides financial security which is equally important.”
The former left-handed batter, who works as the global mentor of Lucknow and Durban Super Giants franchises in the IPL and SA20 leagues, praised the BCCI for employing Indian coaches over the past few years to lead the national side and wished to see more Indian coaches working in IPL.
“One good thing that has happened in Indian cricket is that Indians have started coaching the Indian national cricket team now. I strongly believe (an) Indian should coach the Indian team. All these foreign coaches, who we gave a lot of importance to, come here to make money and then they vanish. Emotions are important in sports. The only people who can be emotional about Indian cricket are the ones who have represented their country.”
“I am a mentor of Lucknow Super Giants. One thing I want to change is that I want to see all Indian coaches in IPL. Because no Indian coach gets an opportunity in Big Bash or any other foreign league. India is a superpower in cricket, but our coaches do not get the opportunity anywhere. All the foreigners come here and get the top jobs. We are more democratic and flexible than other leagues. We need to give our people more opportunity.”
Gambhir, who is also a Lok Sabha MP from East Delhi, further pressed the need for state governments to adopt the Odisha model of encouraging other sports like Hockey and pick up one Olympic sport to promote them in their respective states.
“Sports is going to play a massive role in the development of India. There is a need to engage young children in sports and physical activities instead of their electronic devices. Every state should pick up one sport as Odisha has done with Indian hockey. See where hockey has gone today. I know sports ministry is doing a lot and corporates are getting involved, but if each state picks up one sport and completely focuses on that, imagine where our Olympic sports are going to be.”
“If it is my way, probably the BCCI should also go on and give 50 percent of revenue to all other Olympic sports, though it is not my way. Because 50 percent of revenue that is generated out of cricket is enough for cricketers. But the rest of the 50 percent can actually pick up all the other sports.”