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regular-article-logo Friday, 24 May 2024

Who’s the king among Knights? Not SRK

Sources have told The Telegraph that CEO Venky Mysore has a significant say in every meeting related to the team

Indranil Majumdar , Sayak Banerjee Published 11.05.22, 01:54 AM
CEO Venky Mysore

CEO Venky Mysore Sourced by The Telegraph

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) captain Shreyas Iyer has stirred a hornet’s nest by saying that the franchise’s CEO “is also involved in team selection”.

The CEO is part of the bio-bubble at the ITC Grand Central in Mumbai where the KKR contingent is staying.

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Selection matters are ideally left to the head coach and his support staff in a team. However, being the CEO, none can stop him from engaging in matters related to the team.

Sources have told The Telegraph that the CEO has a significant say in every meeting related to the team. It is learnt that such practices are not uncommon in franchise cricket. The CEO and owners of franchises often indulge in voicing their opinion and choice of player at such selection meetings and is an accepted practice in such leagues.

“This is not like international cricket. Owners have a significant say and even if they don’t get directly involved, they route their opinions through the CEO or speak directly to the head coach,” a top official of one of the franchises said.

Sample this: a team owner often consulted an astrologer to pick and choose players. A player was expected to achieve success depending on the positioning of his stars as suggested by the astrologer. “A certain bowler couldn’t bowl during the slog overs because the astrologer thought the stars didn’t predict he would be successful at that stage,” said an insider.

The CEO wields such power in the franchise that he had almost decided not to retain McCullum as coach after KKR were languishing at the bottom of the table last year. It was only after Shah Rukh Khan co-owned KKR performed well in the UAE leg and made the final that they had to change their mind. Sensing trouble, McCullum had also spoken to the BCCI enquiring if they were interested in having him as coach. Rahul Dravid hadn’t confirmed his availability then. It is also believed that Dinesh Karthik’s decision to surrender captaincy in the middle of IPL 2020 was because of his displeasure with how the team was being run from the inside. KKR were still in the top half of the points table after seven games, but Karthik believed it was the best time for him to go.

The CEO, Venky Mysore, didn’t respond to WhatsApp messages from this newspaper.

INSIDER SPEAK

Sources within the KKR set-up, past and present, made a few observations about the CEO’s functioning. Here’s what they had to say:

Air of discontent

“Quite a few senior and international players were so annoyed with his interference at different points in time that some even contemplated leaving the camp midway during the previous IPLs. During the time Gautam Gambhir & Trevor Bayliss were captain and head coach, the CEO mostly stayed in the background. But after both Gambhir and Bayliss departed, the CEO’s involvement in team matters, both big and small, increased.”

No Bengal connect

“KKR hardly have any emotional connect with the city. They don’t even bid for a Bengal cricketer. Before IPL 2019, Simon Katich (who was then the assistant coach) had been told about Shahbaz Ahmed and he showed interest as well. Yet, Shahbaz wasn’t picked. After that IPL got over, Katich went over to Royal Challengers Bangalore & they promptly picked Shahbaz in the December 2019 auction. Look at how Shahbaz is performing today.”

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