Is the Indian Premier League changing cricket from a sport to a business venture? No, says Kolkata Knight Riders owner Shah Rukh Khan, with his snazzy new hairstyle. His captain Sourav Ganguly agrees.
CNN-IBN editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai caught up with two Knights for this exclusive interview.
Rajdeep Sardesai (to Sourav Ganguly): Some believe IPL has brought in corporatisation of cricket, others say it’s brought out the darker side of the game. We’ve seen when the CEO of Bangalore Royal Challengers was sacked, there were questions about the captain Rahul Dravid as well with Vijay Mallya making certain comments. Does this corporate side of the game trouble you as a cricketer or do you just see big money benefiting the game?
Sourav Ganguly: Of course it will benefit the game. Money benefits everyone, so it will help the game as well. About Vijay Mallya, I think the point of view varies from owner to owner. It’ll be unfair for me to say from the outside whether he is right or wrong.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You are being diplomatic. Rahul Dravid is a great friend of yours. What if Vijay Mallya were to tell Rahul, ‘I don’t want you as a captain.’ Would you like that as a cricketer?
Sourav Ganguly: I’ve been in the situation of not being wanted as a captain (laughs). I haven’t liked it so I am sure Rahul won’t like it either.
Rajdeep Sardesai (to Shah Rukh Khan): As an owner, do you feel you own these cricketers or do you feel they are a part of your team and therefore you can’t sack them if they don’t perform in a couple of games?
Shah Rukh Khan: No, not at all. I am very emotionally attached to each one of my team members. I know how it feels to not succeed. I have played sports in my younger days and I still play. I know the heart and the mind of a sportsman. We cannot generalise this as corporate influx into Indian cricket because, to be very honest, I am hardly a corporate. I don’t even know how corporates work. So may be I am the wrong guy to be talking to.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Are you saying, Shah Rukh, that you have put in $79.5 mn in this venture and yet, this is not a business for you?
Shah Rukh Khan: No, I don’t know even one number of what’s happening in my company and I don’t want to know. I just want to make sure this team is very happy, there’s no sadness in this team, no sacking etc. I can’t do it.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So you are saying even if the Kolkata Knight Riders don’t reach the finals of the IPL, Sourav Ganguly stays the captain? Right?
Shah Rukh Khan: Not reaching and winning is not an option. I don’t even think like that. But Sourav Ganguly will be the captain of this team till he is 106 years old.
Rajdeep Sardesai: And knowing Sourav Ganguly, he’ll still want to play cricket and will still want to make a comeback and will perhaps still have a Greg Chappell stopping him.
Shah Rukh Khan: I know just one thing: Sourav never goes away. We just close our eyes to him for a while and when we open them, he’s back!
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