Exclusive: IPL should become a more global tournament, says Kings XI co-owner Burman Filed on October 29, 2020

Mohit Burman says head coach Anil Kumble has played a key role in the team's remarkable turnaround. (Supplied photo)

Kings XI head coach Anil Kumble. (IPL)

Burman is happy with the way Kings XI Punjab have bounced back in the IPL 2020

Mohit Burman, chairman of KPH Dream Cricket Private Limited, owners of Kings XI Punjab (IPL) and St Lucia Zouks (CPL), doffed his hat to the UAE and the Emirates Cricket Board for salvaging the IPL this year amid a raging pandemic.

During an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, Burman opened up on how team owners go through a roller coaster ride during the most competitive cricket league in the world and why the franchises struggled to make money in the first 10 years of the tournament.

Your team (Kings XI Punjab) have fought back after a poor start in the IPL 2020, winning five games in a row after losing five on the trot. It’s a roller coaster ride for players, coaching staff and fans. Can you give us a glimpse into what emotions owners go through when a particular franchise go through such incredible ups and downs?

Obviously it’s an emotional roller coaster for the owners. Don’t forget that I have been doing it for 13 years now. Kings XI are one of the few teams that have played all seasons. Therefore, I am used to this. Yes, there is anxiety, you know, we had situations in the past when we won the first six of the seven games but then we lost the next six of the seven games. So this time it’s the other way around. As an owner I do get anxious, I do get upset sometimes and you know obviously as professional owners, we are business people, so you have to learn. My next chain of command is my coach and the CEO. So obviously I vent my frustration to both of them. But at the end of the day, when you have a seasoned coach like Anil Kumble, you know he has been doing it for so many years, so he knows the nuances of running a professional team. Even though I did have many conversations with him when we were losing, his coolness and his explanations on why the losses happened and that we would recover put me in a more positive frame of mind. And that’s why I am sitting here now (for the interview) and hoping to be in the playoffs. It’s all about the resilience, you know.

You are the only franchise that have an Indian head coach in Anil Kumble, while all other teams have foreign coaches this season. Lot of former Indian players have called for more local coaches in IPL and praised your team for your decision to have Kumble in the hot seat...

You know we have been running this team for the last 13 years. I think we take the best person for the job. If you look at the history of Kings XI, we have had foreign coaches, some of the best in the world like Tom Moody, and we had Indian coaches. Just to put it in perspective, the year we reached the final (2014), when we were six points (four) ahead of the number two team (Kolkata Knight Riders, the eventual winners) in the points table, we had an Indian coach in Sanjay Bangar. But, you know, the last few seasons, it (results) didn’t go according to plan. So this time, we thought to turn around the situation we needed somebody new. And Anil Kumble was available and we are happy that he came on board.

The IPL is already such a big brand. But is there any room for improvement?

We need more global audience and every two years we should hold the tournament overseas. We need some more overseas planning. Also, the season is too short, it’s only two months. So we are hoping that it would become a more international tournament and also maybe if the season is little bit longer, it will be better. Then there is a rumour that two more teams will be added in future, but we don’t know if that will happen or if it happens we don’t know when it will happen. So basically I would like to see a longer season and it should become a more global tournament.

Some people say that the IPL is the toughest sports tournament in the world because, unlike the English Premier League or even the Champions League football, here all the eight teams have world-class players...

But there were situations when (some) teams had an advantage, especially in the first few years because all the teams were losing a lot of money. So one of the ways to control cost was not spend large amounts on player fees. The first 10 years were hugely difficult because the salary cap was set so high, if you spent most of the money on salaries you could never make money. Every team I think lost money. It was only after the 10th year when the central rights came before the auctions and the amount that BCCI was able to get was so large that most of the money was coming back to the teams. So it was only after the 10th year, that all the teams have had the opportunity to make the squad strong. Like even in Kings XI, we never used to spend most of our money on salary because we just wanted to make sure that we keep our cost in control. So we come close to break even. Therefore we used to get a lot of flak from the coaches, they used to say that ‘the board doesn’t allow us to spend on players, how do you expect us to compete with some of the other teams who spend so much money’.

In hindsight, when we spent the lowest amount of money, that was the year we reached the final (2014). But yes, in the last few years, most of the teams now are now pretty competitive. So you are right in assuming that the tournament has become more competitive. It gives an opportunity for every franchise to win the trophy.


Rituraj Borkakoty

A big fan of the Argentina national football team, Rituraj generally writes on sports. But he deeply cherishes the time he spent with his favourite musician from Assam, India, for an interview. And he loves to bring human interest stories to Khaleej Times readers.

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