The high fives amid high spirits showed the joy a win brings after successive failures. It forced one of the normally dour team owners to smile and another to send a congratulatory text message. And as players, with a morning flight to catch, dragged tired bodies to the party there was talk of shake-up in the support staff next year.
The Kolkata Knight Riders party on Monday night was about several rides really.
It was something they had done on a far bigger scale last year whenever they won. But the party they had after breaking a winless streak of 10 matches in IPL II was different in many ways. Success that comes after so many setbacks was one reason, Shah Rukh Khan’s message another and the most startling one was the admission by members of the team management that they had erred on many fronts which might cost them their jobs.
“We made a colossal blunder by sending back players midway into the tournament (Aakash Chopra and Sanjay Bangar). It sent wrong signals to our Indian players, who got low on confidence,” said a member of the non-playing staff. “Instead of inspiring this lot which others team did, we made them jittery. It might result in a few heads rolling, mine included. But we must admit that we took wrong decisions. John (Buchanan) didn't listen when I said sending them wasn’t good,” he said.
Notable among those absent in the gathering featuring co-owner Jay Mehta and key players like Sourav Ganguly, Brendon McCullum and Brad Hodge was Buchanan. The team’s director of coaching wasn't seen till after midnight. “It’s possible that he would be the first man to get the boot,” said a team member. “We’ve heard he has already been told he wouldn’t be around next year. How could he attend the party then?”
Speculation apart, there were words of encouragement (or solace) from Shah Rukh. “It (the match) was a final for you guys. I understand what you have been going through and congratulate you on this win. It's a great foundation for next year,” the star told some of the team members through a text message. That this missive didn’t go to several individuals of the support staff might indicate what he thinks of them.
The lesser players looked lost in the gathering where some of the team’s followers were dancing away as if KKR had won the tournament. The players said they were startled to see that a meaningless win could spark such joy. Maybe this concoction of cricket and glam needed it before zeroing in on some hard decisions.