Former Indian batsman Sanjay Manjrekar has said cricket fans in the country should follow their Pakistani counterparts when it comes to making heroes out of bowlers to inspire the younger generation.
The 52-year-old stressed on the lack of bowling heroes in India, which is in stark contrast to Pakistan where the likes of Wasim Akram, Imran Khan and Waqar Younis are more popular than batsmen.
Manjrekar added it is "nice" to see bowlers winning matches for India in the recent past. The right-handed batsman, who represented the country in 37 Tests and 74 ODIs, though urged fans to "embrace" the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, who have been consistently been the game-changers for India.
"All India needs is one bowling superstar and it will have amazing (impact) effect on younger kids. You have best academies and infrastructure in the world, but youngsters get inspired by bowling and batting heroes. Cricket inspires young cricketers," Manjrekar said, as quoted by "Press Trust of India" news agency.
He added: "In India, we are a little more obsessed with batting. That is not the case with Pakistan, for example. When you look at Pakistan, superstars are mostly bowlers, starting with Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis. So their bowling heroes are revered more.
"India has somehow produced greatness in sport through batsmanship and not so much from bowling. It is up to the fans to start making heroes out of bowlers and I think that is starting to happen now.
"We have game-changers like (Jasprit) Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar who are winning Man-of-the-Match or Man- of-the-Series awards. That's a nice trend, a different trend, but at the end of the day it's the fans who have to embrace who their hero is. They like batsmen more."
Time for fans to celebrate bowlers
While bowlers, especially pacers, have traditionally been the poster boys of Pakistan cricket, batsmen have enjoyed all the adulation over the years in India. The Pataudis, Gavaskars and Tendulkars have achieved god-like statuses but the Bedis, Chandrasekhars and Kumbles had to be content playing second fiddle to superstar batsmen..
The meagre number of bowling captains in India is a testament to the domination of batsmen in the country.
As Manjrekar points out, the trend is certainly changing in india.
While Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar are being regarded (by opposition captains as well) as the best limited-overs bowlers, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have dominated the charts in Tests. Even the likes of Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav are considered dangerous bowers in the longer format of the game.