TA Sekhar, a director on the board of the Delhi Daredevils, talks to The Indian Express why the Indian Premier League team didn’t retain any players going into the auction and how they went about rebuilding the team after a poor 2013 season.
What was the thinking at the end of the previous IPL?
At the end of the last season, we had a team review. The thinking ahead of the auction was that we should build the team from scratch. That is why we decided to go to the auction with our full purse, which meant that we could get the players we wanted. Though I may sound biased as I am with the Delhi Daredevils, I think we have a well-balanced squad.
What were your problem areas in the previous season when the Daredevils won just three games?
We were lacking in quality India-International players, as we had only Virender Sehwag in that category. Last year, our fast bowlers were also coming off injury, be it Varun Aaaron, Umesh Yadav or Irfan Pathan. Kevin Pietersen too was injured, so our best players were not always available and also were not 100 per cent fit. Plus, we also needed quality India-International players to build a strong team.
Your foundation for the rebuilding of the Delhi Daredevils is the Kevin Pietersen-Gary Kirsten combination.
We started off by roping in Gary Kirsten (head coach). He didn’t renew his contract with Cricket South Africa and it presented us with an opportunity. Coaching in the IPL is very different from coaching a national team as there are players from different countries and cultures. Gary, with his man-management skills and proven credentials as a coach with India, was the best option for us. He has the ability to communicate his coaching philosophy to a budding Indian player as well as he does with an international star. Aashish Kapoor (sports administrator), Eric Simons (assistant coach) and I, along with Gary, decided on the kind of players we must target during the auction. We wanted 16 players and I can say we got 13 of them.
With regard to Pietersen, did the happenings in the England dressing room force you to have a rethink on him?
Actually, once he was no longer part of the England set-up, it was clear that he would be available for the entire season and that made it even more important to have Pietersen in the team. For us, what happened in the England dressing room didn’t change our opinion of Pietersen. When it comes to the Delhi Daredevils, KP has been fantastic. Two seasons ago, he won matches for us off his own bat. But what was equally important, was his contribution when it came to working with the younger players. Even when he was injured, he made it a point to help out Unmukt Chand in the nets. KP brings a lot to the table, on the field and in the dressing room.
The Daredevils went all out to bag Dinesh Karthik for Rs 12.5 crores. Why did you break the bank for Karthik?
Karthik has a lot going for him. He is one of the three to four Indian players, the others being Yuvraj Singh and Robin Uthappa, who has played in all editions of the IPL. The rest of the Indian players, who have played all six seasons of the IPL, had already been retained. The IPL experience cannot be discounted because decisions have to be made in the middle very quickly. Also, Karthik has a very sharp cricketing brain and we felt that he could contribute immensely to the leadership group. Karthik also has the ability to shift gears. He can hit big sixes as well as bat right through an innings. He also plays spin very well.
Talking about the bigger names in the squad, why did you choose to buy Ross Taylor only on the second day, after he went unsold on the first?
In 2017, I think teams may not retain as many players as they did after seeing how we assembled our team by going into the auction with a full purse. We didn’t go for Ross Taylor in the first round because we knew that when he came up for bidding again on the second day, most other teams would have run out of money and we could get him for a steal. That is what exactly happened. To get Ross Taylor, who is in the form of his life, for Rs 2 crore is a great deal.