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'Time has come to rethink the idea of IPL mega auction'

By HARISH KOTIAN
April 22, 2022 09:24 IST
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'The auctions were necessary up to a point, but now the time has come where continuity is very, very, important.'

IMAGE: Venky Mysore, Jahnavi Mehta, Aryan Khan and Suhana Khan at the IPL players auction in Bengaluru in February. Photograph: BCCI
 

After an impressive start, Kolkata Knight Riders seem to have lost their way with three straight losses.

Shreyas Iyer, who has impressed in his first season as KKR captain, will be aiming to get his team back to winning ways, while the likes of Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and Pat Cummins would also be keen to make match-winning contributions.

In the second part of a multi-part interview, KKR CEO and Managing Director Venky Mysore reveals why KKR is no longer in favour of the IPL mega auction every few years.

Pat Cummins's sensational knock against the Mumbai Indians must have been a huge-morale booster for the team. How big was that knock for the team?

Absolutely! Apart from the knock itself, he is such a terrific personality. The kind of positive energy that he brings when he is part of the team. He has been part of KKR for a long time, he loves the franchise, you can sense that.

He is a top player, He is Australia's Test captain, but he is still so humble. He comes in and straightaway, he integrates beautifully with the team. I think all of those things are very important. Of course, the knock was special, it comes once in maybe 10 years.

It was a special knock, but important is the person and every member of the team. I must say the environment has been just brilliant.

Everyone is happy to be here, everyone is happy to be part of KKR. They are trying to make sure that they support each other and the ones who are playing, the ones who are not playing, everyone is on the same page so I couldn't be happier.

It must have been a difficult decision to release someone like Pat Cummins ahead of the IPL auction. But you must feel lucky to get an important player like him back at a bargain price of Rs 7.5 crore (Rs 75 million) at the auction.

The thing is the auctions are always challenging. This is my fourth big auction after 2011, 2014 and 2018.

I was telling people that if they (the BCCI) told us that you can keep the whole team we would have been happy to keep the whole team. But you could only retain four.

We agonised over that and we had to unfortunately release some players that we really wanted to keep like Cummins, Shubman Gill, Lockie Ferguson and Rahul Tripathi and a lot of other players but that's the way it goes.

Therefore, the strategy that we use, for me it represents continuity and change because if you saw the playing XI that we played the other day, seven of our players were part of our squad last year.

That is unique now because that was part of our strategy. Still, change is good. Some change that has actually happened like Shreyas Iyer, Ajinkya Rahane, Sam Billings and Umesh Yadav. These players were not with us last year, but they have come in, they have integrated beautifully, and they are doing a great job for us.

So the combination of the continuity that was there... you will see how Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana, Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Varun Chakravarthy, Shivam Mavi... they have all done an amazing job of doing well for us and at the same time we are in a position where is a good combination of continuity and change.

In terms of continuity, would you say this could be the last mega auction? Are you in favour of having a mega-auction every few years to even out the teams or does it hamper the growth of a franchise and affect the fan base if players keep changing every few years?

The auctions were necessary up to a point, but now the time has come where continuity is very, very, important.

Very clearly, franchises like ours and others we work hard to build our squads and it's extremely important to maintain the continuity as well.

Therefore, we prefer that we have opportunities to hold onto the players considering how much we have worked hard to build and develop the squad.

At the same time we realise that the auction to some extent is necessary, but I think the time has come now to rethink that whole idea of this mega auction, putting everyone back in there (to be bid for at the auction). Let's hope it all works out that way.

IMAGE: KKR Captain Shreyas Iyer speaks to Varun Chakravarthy. Photograph: BCCI

One of your most-talked about purchases at the IPL auction was Shreyas Iyer who is leading KKR in this year's IPL.
What made you splurge so much money on him? Was he originally part of your plans or did the auction dynamics force you to go in that direction?

We were very focused on getting him, but you know in an auction you can never be sure.

We make every plan, sometimes you make the best of plans and it works and it doesn't work. From that perspective, it is something that we had planned for. But until you get that particular player you never know, whether it works or not.

We were very happy to have been able to get Shreyas. He is absolutely fantastic, he has fit into KKR as if he has been with us for a long, long, time. We couldn't be be happier with what we have done.

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com

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