A lot of guns are being trained at KKR CEO Venky Mysore following captain Shreya Iyer's post-match statement after Kolkata Knight Riders' 52-run victory against Mumbai Indians that "the CEO is also obviously involved in team selection".
A little back story would help.
When Venky Mysore was appointed the KKR CEO after the 2010 IPL season, Kolkata Knight Riders had finished 6th, 8th, and 6th in the first three years of their IPL journey.
From the time Mysore took over, Kolkata qualified for the playoffs in 2011 and went on to win the title in 2012 and 2014, courtesy of some exemplary leadership from Gautam Gambhir. Since 2014 as well, the team has been in or around the playoffs.
It has only been this year that KKR find themselves in the bottom half of the IPL leaderboard, with only five victories from 12 matches and will miss the playoffs in all likelihood.
Mysore, a Key Man at KKR, Across Years
Mysore has 25 years of experience in financial services across various global markets and has served at numerous senior positions in the United States, Canada, and Asia. He was also the India country head of Sun Life Financial, Canada.
He was given a free rein in the 2011 IPL auctions and delivered a master stroke by breaking the bank for Gautam Gambhir, who had to be picked for a hefty sum of Rs 11.04 crore because of the auction dynamics despite the amount exceeding KKR's circuit break-up by a fair margin.
"It (2011) was my first auction, and I was sitting there (auction table). The owners took a call that this is your baby, your project, you run it, your plan, you go and execute. That has been the thing with KKR ever since I have been involved," these words from Mysore in 2020 were quite revealing.
Now Mysore, who has played a key role in bringing the franchise success over the years, hasn't ever given the impression that he isn't involved in micro-managing Kolkata Knight Riders.
There can obviously be a debate about whether the captain, the coach, or the CEO is the right person to pick a team, but that debate must start with the precursor that no method is right or wrong per se.
Different Teams, Different Methods
There are various models of running any sports franchise. For instance, in the IPL, there's the MS Dhoni model at Chennai Super Kings where it is Dhoni who has the casting vote after thorough discussions with head coach Stephen Fleming.
The Delhi Capitals model, on the other hand, empowers head coach Ricky Ponting to be the deciding authority as it is perhaps impossible for a personality of the stature of Ponting to be part of a cricketing entity and not have the final say.
Another model, and a successful one at that, is the KKR model of the owners delegating the entire responsibility to CEO Venky Mysore to run the team's day-to-day operations.
With the success that Mysore has had over the years, it would be naive to question his pedigree or conviction. The same stands true for Brendon McCullum. You don't hop from one franchise to another and are in demand throughout the year without showing promise as the head coach, and then delivering on that promise.
Shreyas' First KKR Season
When Shreyas Iyer had a windfall at the mega auctions and was then appointed the captain of the franchise, he would have known that it would be a collaborative effort and not a one-man-show.
In fact, the way he worked in tandem with Ponting at DC, and quite successfully, one might add, would have prepared him well for the KKR challenge. If anything, Iyer's captaincy has been impressive over the years. The way he took over from Gautam Gambhir mid-season at a tough time, and then led Delhi to the playoffs in 2019 and 2020, had the analysts going gaga over his captaincy.
With the use of Umesh Yadav up top standing out, the prospective Indian skipper has taken some bold decisions this year as well.
But despite having the best intentions, the best coaches, the best analysts, and the best players, things can sometimes go out of hand in the IPL. That's just the nature of the beast.
A Collective Effort – In Victory and Defeat
In the charged environment of the day, why is it that we always need a scapegoat? Can't it be that captain Shreyas Iyer, coach Brendon McCullum, and CEO Venky Mysore all tried their best, but it simply didn't come off for them this time around?
Things could have looked completely different for Kolkata had Alex Hales not pulled out of the IPL citing bubble fatigue just days before the start of the season, Ajinkya Rahane rediscovered some of his old touch, both their retained Indian players Venkatesh Iyer and Varun Chakravarthy not hit terrible form at the same time, Umesh Yadav not been injured at a crunch time or the pitches assisted the spinners like they did in the UAE.
Search for all the cricketing reasons you want, but sometimes you have to look up at the stars rather than looking down. Things have not fallen in place for KKR this year, as they haven't for IPL giants Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, and sometimes that's how the dice rolls. Obviously, when that happens, it reflects poorly not only on the captain but on the team management as well.
With Brendon McCullum parting ways with KKR to take over as England Men's Test head coach, a new man will come in with a new set of ideas. That said, we don't have any reason to believe that it would change KKR's modus operandi of team selection.
And who knows, if things click for the franchise in IPL 2023, this very pointed criticism might take the shape of plaudits, highlighting how the collaborative effort of a young and talented captain, a level-headed coach, and an astute CEO brought them laurels.
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