Mr.Mallya - We are not impressed

May 2008


The match between the Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens was a fascinating one. There were a lot of significant things that came out from that match. I was hoping that Mr.Mallya and Dravid were also watching that match. SRK was in his element. And it would'nt be an overstatement if one says that the Knight riders had 12 people playing that night. The 11 on the field and Shahrukh Khan.

On one hand we have a beleagured Bangalore Royal Challengers team. Losing close matches and remaining at the bottom of the table. On an immediate basis, the UB group dismissed it's CEO Charu Sharma right in the middle of the tournament. Now Mr. Vijay Mallya has gone about criticising his own team and the captain and his selections in the media. Let's analyse this - Mallya has reason to be unhappy ,no doubt about it. If Dravid took the lead in selecting the team and if they are not performing he must get the stick for it. Also his body language on the field has been very deflated and pressurised and it looks unlikely that given this his team will get any motivation from the captain. I think it also needs to be understood that IPL will now have a very corporate side to it. Franchisee owners will want results just as they want results doing business. In this scenario Mallya is bound to be unhappy.My question however is with the timing of the whole thing. Just imagine what a player like Bharat Chipli or even a Jaques Kallis must be feeling reading Mallya'a comments. They basically tell them that you guys are not good enough and i never wanted you in my team in the first place. I have unnecessarily spent crores on you'll and you are not worth my money, support and brand name. Rahul Dravid has been told clearly that he is the reason why Mallya is doomed. And that he is waiting to sell him off next year at whatever price.(BTW,even if Dravid is sold at a lower price, he will still recieve 4.2 crores every year as a part of his contract money) All this in the middle of the tournament. After every loss Mr. Mallya seems to be making his anger very apparent. In my opinion such behaviour of the owner is not going to help the already struggling team in anyway. It just seems that Mallya's ego has been badly hurt. He is now trying to disassociate himself from his own team. He says he did not make selections on his own and that's what has cost them. So he is not reponsible for the fate of the team. Basically, he has disowned his own team.

I do not know how corporate India works(or actually how UB group works) but i do have the experience of being part of teams and even leading them. Once Mallya agreed to let Dravid and Charu Sharma take the lead, he should have backed them till the end irrespective of the performance. The blame game that he has started does not suit a man of his stature.No one plays to lose. No one makes mistakes because they want to make them. Plus in Sports, at all times someone will lose! Even as 18-19 year olds when i was at Umang(our college fest) we had made pact amongst us, the core team of Umang 2005 who were responsible to make selections of depatmental heads, that we will debate ,have difference of opinion,but once we decide upon an individual we will never question the decision irrespective of the outcome and who amongst us was backing that person. Even in college cricket, you may not agree on all selections in the team but the moment you step onto the field you play for each other like there's no tomorrow. This is atleast my concept of team spirit and sportsmanship.Agreed, the RCB have had a nightmarish run in the IPL. Yes, the captain and coach must take blame for it. But in my opinion, all that can be looked after the tournament is over and the firing and dismissals can take place then. Blaming players while the tournament is on is just not cool. Also some UB group officials now say that Dravid selcted a lot of players who were his friends(e.g. Sunil Joshi, Anil Kumble) I think this is taking the whole matter to a new low. Players like Kumble, Kallis, Chanderpaul,Boucher have done well for decades. Just because they have not performed for 1 and a half month does not rob them of their ability or the respect they have earned over the years. Maybe the T20 format is not for them but they are not going out there to lose matches for Bangalore purposely.

Have a look at the Mumbai Indians. They lost their first 4 matches but not a single reliance representative or Mr. Ambani made any comments. The only thing that was said was - "winning and losing is okay, i want 100% effort". The Mumbai Indians went on to win the next 3 matches in a row. Mumbai Indians was heavily criticised for the team they selected. Sachin Tendulkar was criticised for selcting Ashish Nehra by the media. Nehra struggled but he came back with a match winning performance because of the support he recieved from the franchisee owners and the team. Tendulkar himself being unfit could have been forced to play the matches for the crowds. But neither Mr. Meswani(the one who handles the team) nor Mr.Ambani presurrised him. Just look at Rajasthan Royals, the are having a brilliant run. All because of Team spirit and hard work. Both the Rajasthan Royals and the Mumbai Indians are much weaker teams than the Royal Challengers from Bangalore. Most people who understand cricket will agree with me. But you can see the difference in the teams by just watching them on the field.People like Shane Warne, Shaun Pollock, Jayasuriya, Tendulkar, Ambani, Jeremy Snape must get due credit. Even, Mr. Shahrukh Khan, he throws a party for his team irrespective of the result. When the chips are down he is the most vociferous supporter in the stadium. I think everyone needs to learn from this. Glamour and the glitsz in it's palce. But it is still a game of cricket and it is played by passionate human beings. They still need support and encouragement. They will need to be felt wanted. And after all the effort, there is a chance that they will lose!

- Ankit Doshi

Cut to May 2009: RCB are in the finals of IPL 2. Exactly the same players are part of the team that performed so poorly in IPL 2008. Only addition - R Van Der Merwe of South Africa. All those players Mr. Mallya did not like were the ones who performed brilliantly this IPL. RCB was led by an inspirational leader in Anil Kumble. Rahul Dravid was one of RCB's top scorers. Anil Kumble one of the highest wicket takers in the series. Ross Taylor played crucial innings several times. Jacques Kallis was the main man for RCB throughout the series.

I hope everyone got their answer. Cricket remains cricket in any form. And Form is temporary, Class is permanent. Think again before you deride players who have proved themselves at the highest level.