JSW Sports is no strangers to being a part of the franchise league bandwagon that’s mushroomed over the last decade following the success of the Indian Premier League. Having forayed into the world of cricket as co-owners of the rechristened Delhi Capitals (erstwhile Delhi Daredevils), the JSW contingent enjoyed its first big outing in the IPL world during Tuesday’s player auction.
In a candid chat with Sportstar , Mustafa Ghouse, the former tennis player who is the CEO of JSW Sports, shared the experience and vision of the Delhi Capitals on the sidelines of the auction.
How different is cricket business that the other properties JSW is involved in?
It is very different. The scale in cricket is massive and it is a huge step for us. We have not here been in auction at this scale; we have been in kabaddi but not this value. It is interesting for us and it is as small auction and the strategies are a bit more focused than the bigger auction. So all in all, very happy with the way it’s gone.
The other leagues are quite organised as opposed to the uncertainty surrounding the IPL. How are you dealing with it?
In football, there is a trading window or you have a open market and you can pick your targets and negotiate the price. But this is very dynamic because you don’t know what other teams are thinking. You can only guess and hope your guess right. Saying that, we had a decent amount of money going into the auction and we could pick our targets and hope we get them, unless something special comes in.
You have been saying to bring in stability for the IPL team, something that the Daredevils missed on in the last few seasons. How do you go about it?
It is high priority for us. Like we did with Bengaluru FC and the kabaddi team, we like to bring lot of involvement from management perspective and keep it professional and focused and that is our intent going forward. And we want to build this brand like we did with our football team and other sports properties.
Was it a conscious effort to bring in Shikhar Dhawan and Ishant Sharma with an eye on increasing local connect?
Shikhar, yes. He was out and out our target. When we came to know he is available, we went hard for him. Ishant is bowling well and is an added factor that he is from Delhi. But all of it helps.
How challenging has your first taste of IPL auction been considering there is no clarity about the IPL venue?
We are building a squad in either of the places. Hopefully not affected. The thing we did is, our coaching staff and support staff are unchanged and Ricky (Ponting) is very clear in his thinking and Praveen (Amre, the talent scout) has been doing a sound job. (Mohammad) Kaif, since the time he came in (as assistant coach), is well-networked in domestic season and that way he was invaluable, and we knew how to build the squad.
Yeah, we had to factor that the tournament may be moved to South Africa or UAE, and we wanted to cover all the bases. And luckily Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris are healthy and fit, they will play an important role for us. And considering they are available for the entire duration of the IPL, they are key things that went our way. Now it’s up to the boys to do well and win on the field. We have done our part.
Is there additional thrust on bringing in home connect this time around?
That is an important factor for us. We felt that in the last few seasons, because of the performance and may be different strategies, the team had lost connect with the fans. And we really want to reconnect and local players add a lot of value and hope the team wins and fans are happy.