Interview by Pankhuri Kumar; Editing by Neha Sharma
Everyone lives but there are few who make history and are remembered forever for what they have given to the society. We are here in conversation with Gautam Gambhir, one such man who evolved from being an ordinary Delhi boy to a hero and an inspiration for the entire country.
He is a cricketer by profession and an honourable citizen who has been conferred with the Arjun Award. It is hard to enumerate all his achievements, but a few major ones could be the award of ICC Test player of the year in 2009, being the only Indian to score hundreds in 5 consecutive Test matches, among many more. He is known for being a strategic game player and an aggressive one when needed.
His achievements are not only limited to the cricket field. He has been a star off the field with his contribution to the local cricket encouraging young players to chase their dreams. He is known for initiatives like Community kitchen and supporting education for the deprived.
We express our gratitude towards him for choosing the platform of Indspire Me and sharing his thoughts with us. We are certain that his words will inspire people to find a hero within themselves.
According to you, what is the importance of inspiration in a person’s life? Who has been the most inspiring mentor and guide for you, throughout your journey of playing cricket so far?
If there is an individual who has inspired you, you will obviously look up to him. I have not been inspired by any cricketer and in fact, my sole inspiration has been Bhagat Singh. I have told this in all my interviews that he is someone about whom I have read a lot, seen the movie “Shaheed” which is about him and I have always tried to follow him.
Did you have to overcome any major hurdles to make your debut into a very strong Indian batting side in 2003?
Look, everyone has to go through a lot of struggles and I am not the only one who has faced them. One such struggle was that I had to make heaps and heaps of runs to get into the Indian Cricket team which is not the case right now. I had to score more than any individual. We all need to face hurdles but if we keep performing we can break into them.
You are someone who has always valued fitness. Now, players have to pass the mandatory Yo-yo test in order to play for the Indian team. What are your thoughts on this development?
I think fitness is very important because if you see, the game has changed. It has become far more physical than what it used to be couple of years back. Obviously, strength and fitness are essential when you see the standards of fielding and running between the wickets. It has become very high as compared to what it used to be. But I am not a strong believer that the Yo-yo test is a parameter to get yourself selected into the Indian team. Obviously, you want players to have certain standard of fitness but that should not be the criterion for not selecting someone. If someone is good in his skills and is scoring runs then he should be selected and it’s then the trainers’ job to make him fit and achieve the results that the team wants.
What kind of future do you see for all the different formats of the game?
The most unfortunate thing is that Test cricket is dying in most of the countries and I have grown up watching Test cricket and always wanted to play and do well in it. T-20 is definitely taking over Test cricket and One-day format. One-day format has become one dimensional and is totally in the batsman’s favour, especially after two new balls and with the quality of wickets we have got now. Obviously, T-20 is far more exciting with just 20 overs and at every ball there is something exciting happening but I still feel that measures should be taken to let Test cricket survive and revive.
You have an eye for recognizing talent. Who are the 3 most talented young Indian players at the moment, who have the potential to make it big?
I don’t like talking about individuals because I don’t think it will be fair of me to take 3 names who have the potential to make it really big in international cricket but there are a lot of quality players coming up. The most important thing is that there is a huge difference and a long gap between first-class cricket and international cricket but there are a lot of quality players coming into the ranks and I would not like to take any names.
You have played with & against some great cricketers in your long career. What separates the good from the great?
It’s the mind-set to win each and every time without thinking about the individual performances. It is about trying and winning for the team and contributing for the team. I have always believed that there is no point scoring runs if your team can’t win. Ultimately, it only goes into your record book which I have never thought of and it has never bothered me. If you speak to the great players they will say the same thing that rather than their own individual performances, it is about contributing and trying to make your team win.
What have been your three greatest moments in your career so far?
I think first was obviously making my debut for India. The second was playing at Napier as it was very different from what my characteristic behaviour is. Because, I am quite impatient and I didn’t realize that I could bat for 16 hours but I did that. It was very special as we won the series after 40 odd years. Also, winning the world cup was always my childhood dream and I couldn’t play the world cup till 2007 T-20 World Cup. It was very heart breaking but when I played my first world cup, I ended up winning. I scored in the finals and then won the 50 overs World Cup. Both the world cups are very special to me.
You are a celebrity and everyone knows your name. How do you handle, both the pressure from fans of the sport as well as the widespread recognition from the public?
Enjoy till the time it is because it is not going to be there for rest of your life. But the most important thing is how you give back to the society rather than just taking everything from the society. It is going to be far more pleasing and satisfying as compared to what recognition and fame you get from the society.
Many youngsters from small towns dream about making it big in cricket. They may not have access to the same privileges and resources, as those from big cities. What advice would you give them?
The things are changing and there is a better infrastructure than it used to be and there are a lot of associations. I am not saying things are ideal but it’s much better than what it used to be and you see a lot of young cricketers coming from small towns due to better facilities. So, I am sure things will only get better in future.
What is the legacy you wish to leave behind & how do you think Gautam Gambhir- the cricketer, and Gautam Gambhir – the leader, will be remembered?
Legacy, as I mentioned, is giving back to the society and ultimately everyone has to finish his career one day but what you do after your career is over is important. How you can help the youngsters and give back to the sport is important. How you can contribute to the society will decide what kind of legacy you want to leave behind. Letting young kids recognize their potential is far more satisfying than what I have achieved in my own career.
Talking about something a bit more personal, you recently took your daughter to visit Disneyland in Paris. What is the best part about spending time with her? How do you feel about being apart from her when you have to travel for games and other work commitments?
It is very difficult staying away from your kids. It was a very different experience to take her to Disneyland. Seeing her happy makes me happy and so when I saw her so excited and happy, it took me away from all the stress and worries that I was going through in my life. Spending time with her is surely a stress buster and I would love to spend as much time as I can with her.
If you liked this interview and would like to read more such awesome interviews from Indspire Me, then do check out our section on Inspiring Interviews.
About the Interviewer
Pankhuri Kumar is a student of Economics (Honours) at Hindu College, University of Delhi. She is a big believer in the power of positivity and plans to do her MBA in the future. In her free time, Pankhuri can be found checking out new places to eat and shop at.
About the Editor
Neha Sharma is a multi linguistic and a Spanish language specialist with 9 years of teaching and training experience across varying age groups between 8 years to 28 years. Currently, she works with a multinational as a Team Lead. She possesses a great understanding of human expressions through 3 years of experience at National School of Drama (NSD). She has been associated as a content writer with some of the most well-known publishing houses of the country. With a zeal for exploring new cultures, she has travelled extensively across the country and abroad.
She is a graduate, post graduate and UGC NET qualified in Spanish language from Delhi University.