With the IPL 2020 season on its way and already spilling a lot of drama despite empty stadiums, KingsXI Punjab Co-owner Ness Wadia is super thrilled with the way IPL 2020 has been able to humungous interest among the cricket loving audiences.
Speaking on “Amstrad InsideSport Face 2 Face Cricket Series” Co-Owner of Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) said that full credit for delivering such a incredible IPL 2020 goes to Sourav Ganguly, Jay Shah and Brijesh Patel. Wadia discussed the new normal, KXIP’s team combination, the impact of a closed-door IPL 2020 on the business and also his admiration for KL Rahul, Anil Kumble and new signing Glenn Maxwell who came back to the Punjab outfit garnering a whopping sum of INR 10.75 Crore.
The initial discussion talked about how is the feeling that the IPL is finally taking place and Wadia said, “I think a lot of skeptics thought it would never take place. I was not one of them, knew all along that it would happen. I had full faith in the BCCI and the IPL that it would happen. I think there were a lot of two and fro with the ICC as well. And I, I’m very happy that it’s taking place in Dubai it’s a good hunting ground for us and I truly believe that the BCCI gets a lot of stick and I think there’s a lot of negativity which people talk about BCCI, it’s okay to be negative in some things but then at least applaud when people do positive things. And I take a bow to the IPL – Sourav Ganguly, Jay Shah, Brijesh Patel and the others who are involved in getting the IPL up and running and it’s just incredible. It’s just incredible what they’ve done to pull it off, the safety and security protocols are amazing in the bubbles. We’ve had a lot to learn from other leagues and they’ve learned.”
The KXIP co-owner also voiced his opinion on the IPL being held in the UAE giving an analogy, “In every business, you have a good year and a bad year and ups and downs. And I think this is one of those years where one has to look at the glass half full. It’s better than it’s happening than it’s not. We’re very excited and happy to have the IPL.”
With the new normal in place and restrictions at the stadiums, the owners are having a new experience being at the ground to which Wadia said, “It’s a different experience and quite intriguing when you are in a stadium and there are no fans around. It just means we have to shout more and cheer more. We have to adapt and adjust and that is what we are doing. It might be pretty peaceful actually from an owner’s perspective because for a lot of owners, when you go to your home grounds you have so many fans asking you things, wanting things and it might be pretty peaceful from our perspective, also. You have a more relaxed time and you get to enjoy the game and focus more. Here you have a restriction of eight people, so it is a different experience. I wouldn’t say its better but it’s unique and more peaceful for sure.”
He also commented on the discussions doing rounds in the media around IPL sponsorship saying, “This year it’s the sponsorship, next year might be something else that’s just what IPL brings.”
He further elaborated on the matter of sponsorship saying, “I think it’s been difficult for most of the franchises, some are exceptions. It’s difficult to deal with sponsors every year, this year it is a little bit more difficult. It’s been a tough year and it’s been a hit for everyone. Like I said, if IPL hadn’t happened, then it will be a zero-sum game so anything is better than zero, right?”
Wadia believes that the IPL will certainly lift the sentiments of the businesses and people in general. “Everyone’s going to watch the IPL from the youngest kid to the oldest grandmother, grandfather. And that’s what IPL brings you know so it’s going to be really, to my mind, it’s going to change the sentiment. Be it the Prime Minister albeit down to the person who drives your car everyone’s going to be watching. So you know the whole of India, and the rest of the world is going to watch.”
Finally, the discussion came on KXIP and Glenn Maxwell in particular. He said, “Maxwell brings tremendous amounts to the game and I think he’s long overdue. And I think it’s going to be a good year for him, as he said, “Playing pace better. I have more confidence” and it’s all about confidence. He is a very important part of our team and of course, he is an entertainer, on his given day and when in his element he is beautiful to watch.”
Furthermore, on the show, he spoke about Anil Kumble and KL Rahul saying, “As far as Anil Kumble and KL Rahul are concerned it’s good that they’re from Karnataka, I think it’s very important. I think we’ve got a lot of wonderful players from Karnataka and across India and the world. I think we’ve got an exceedingly well-balanced team, with an exceedingly well-balanced director and coach in Anil Kumble, his experience, his respect, his wisdom just stands out. He is a phenomenal bowler, phenomenal leader and a nice person. He is humble, simple, to the point and very professional.”
For KL Rahul he said, “As one can recollect we went very strong for KL Rahul in the auctions. Show me a more versatile player in Indian cricket at the moment. He can open, he can go down to number four, and he can go down to number six. At every point of that chain of the 11, to add he is also a wicketkeeper. He is a captain in the making, as he said recently “I have watched Virat, thinking like a captain.” And when you’re a wicket keeper you automatically think a lot, so it’s going to be amazing. Our role is just to encourage them and give them more confidence.”
Finally, he was asked whether another IPL in March/April 2021 will lead to a domino effect on the way market reacts considering it will be two editions within a span of six-seven months. Wadia said, “There is never enough of cricket. I think there are a lot of opportunities. We’ve talked many times as franchises in IPL and with BCCI about having two seasons because we’ve also always felt that 10 months of the year having nothing is not good. I don’t think there’s going to be an absorption issue. I think it’s going to be appreciated by the fans. Cricket is going to be bigger than ever, it’s growing bigger than ever and it’s going to have great viewership.”
He further added, “Thirteen years ago when IPL started, five-day matches were dying, one-day matches were dying and then came T20, everyone said cricket is dead. I feel Cricket has never been more alive. The number of players who now have an opportunity to take up cricket as a profession, the number of sponsors who now have an opportunity and remember that IPL deals and cricket deals comprise about 25% to 30% of the entire sponsorship in the whole of India, all advertising and marketing spend. So, it is something that needs to be reckoned with. So, I certainly don’t think it’s an issue. Unfortunately, COVID is going to continue and cricket will help us take our mind of things and looking forward to an IPL 14 sooner rather than later.”