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Joy Bhattacharya, former team director of KKR, talks about his time with the franchise

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Joy Bhattacharya, former team director of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), recently opened up about the experience of his stint with the two time IPL champions.

In an interview with Sportscafe, Bhattacharya, who has mastered many trades such as being a  quizmaster, director for the 2017 U17 Football World Cup in India, digital Cricket expert, other than being the CEO of KKR during their best years, was asked about his journey with the Kolkata Knight Riders, to which he said, “KKR was a huge journey. I was there from the first ball and from the first auction. And the thing was that in the beginning, we picked players for talent and as you proceed you realise that there is no team that is exactly the same as their talent. Some teams play above their talent while some teams perform below their talent, although they have great professionals as a team, they don’t perform well. So basically in year one, we picked the team for talent. By the time in year three, the team that played in 2010, it was a very strong team in many ways. But it still did not have the magic of the team is bigger than the individual. Players like Jacques Kallis and Gautam Gambhir brought something different to the team, brought that spirit to the team and those were the kind of people that we would choose for the next time, the kind of people who would shed blood for KKR. It doesn’t matter whether they win or lose because no team can win everyday. But they must be prepared to fight every minute for the team.
And then there was the great team of 2011 where we were one ball away from securing a place in the playoffs and Balaji got hit for 21 runs in that one over and it ended. But then we came back in 2012 and with the addition of Sunil Narine who was an x-factor. In 2013 we sort of faded away but in 2014, we again had a chance to keep our core together. The biggest lesson that I have learnt is that when you broadcast, you see things from a distance and in the beginning, you feel bad when India loses because you have loyalty towards India. But you still are a professional doing your job. When you are a part of a team like KKR, the first thing that it is emotional, the second thing is the days that you lose the whole world is against you. The only people that are together are those 20-25 people who are the players and the staff. And the rest of the world is against you so the highs are higher and the lows are much lower. So it’s a much more emotionally and mentally demanding journey because you must be able to maintain your equanimity in tough times.”

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Upon being asked about the difficulty of giving the franchise its own identify, separating it from the term Shahrukh Khan’s team, given the cult and stardom the Bollywood superstar has, Bhattacharya, who was a part of KKR since the inception of the IPL, replied, “I think that happened naturally. The first part of that happened when we had to make a very tough decision that Sourav was not going to be a part of KKR from 2011. I think Shah Rukh also wanted to distance himself from that because filmstars get a lot of love but a lot of hatred as well. So the moment that happened we said that let Shah Rukh be away from this because the amount of personal abuse that he will get is too much. So we decided to let him take a step back. So the moment that happened and we won the IPL, it just started. Let’s build a brand KKR and it’s not about SRK, and that is where it all started.

After his stint with KKR, Bhattacharya left the franchise to take over the role of the FIFA U17 World Cup director. Upon being asked about the difficulty of doing so, he said, “It was very tough as there was a strong emotional bond but the thing is that I felt that never again in India, there would be a first FIFA World Cup. And to get young Indian footballers and to bring a Football revolution in India was very exciting. There was also the opportunity to work with FIFA and to learn new things and to learn how they do their work so there were a lot of things. I remember in 2008 when KKR lost I told myself to see at least one semifinal. Eventually, I got to see 2 championships and we would have also won the Champions League if Raina had not played a brilliant innings. And also if Sunil Narine had been allowed to play.”