IPL Diary: Remembering the First Royal

After being associated with the team as its captain-mentor till 2011, Shane Warne was involved with Rajasthan Royals as mentor and brand ambassador till IPL 2020.

Santadeep Dey
Tribute to a legend: To honour the Australian legend, Shane Warne, who passed away in Thailand in March, Rajasthan Royals has set up a tribute gallery at the DY Patil Stadium.

At the DY Patil Stadium, 14 summers ago, Rajasthan Royals created history by clinching its first and only Indian Premier League title, under the leadership of Shane Warne.

And to honour the Australian legend, who passed away in Thailand in March, Rajasthan Royals has set up a tribute gallery at the DY Patil Stadium.

A special Warne mural greets the fans as they enter the stadium and to pay tribute to its ‘first Royal’, the franchise also dedicated its league stage match against Mumbai Indians to the legend. While the Rajasthan Royals players sported jerseys with the initials ‘SW23’ featured on the lead collar, the coaches and members of the support staff were wearing special jerseys with ‘Warne 23’ on the back. The franchise also came up with a short film, chronicling Warne’s journey with the team and the programme was attended by Warne’s younger brother Jason.

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During RR’s 2008 title-winning run, Warne also guided young Indian cricketers like Ravindra Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan.

After being associated with the team as its captain-mentor till 2011, Warne was involved with Royals as mentor and brand ambassador till IPL 2020.

“He was a very special individual and a very special cricketer for almost every cricketer in the world and it was the same for me,” Royals captain Sanju Samson said.

The team’s English batter Jos Buttler said: “The belief he could instill in others, I think, was the biggest thing I took away. He made you feel 10 feet tall when you were around him…”

The Rajasthan outfit hasn’t won an IPL title since 2008, and this time, the team wants to win it for Warne.

Wankhede woes

The Wankhede Stadium would usually host about eight to nine IPL matches in a season. But with the entire group leg of the tournament being held in Mumbai and Pune, the iconic Wankhede Stadium has been allotted 20 matches. A couple of matches were also rescheduled to Mumbai from Pune after the COVID-19 scare hit the Delhi Capitals camp.

All this cricket has put the Garware Club House in a spot. Both Garware Club House and the Wankhede Stadium share the same address in Churchgate and the Club has requested for a few games to be shifted elsewhere.

The Garware Club House’s vice-president Raj Purohit has written to the Maharashtra Cricket Association, stating that the cricket association should consider that it is the summer holidays, and the children and the members of the club are finding it a challenge to access the facilities due to too many restrictions because of the IPL. “A lot of restrictions are imposed by police on entry of the members and other bonafide visitors/vendors to the Club House,” Purohit wrote. The footfall has considerably reduced resulting in financial losses for the Club.

A shift in venue, however, looks highly unlikely.

There’s never a dull moment in Mumbai

Bombay/Bambai/Mumbai. The city of numerous dreams has numerous names too.

The Diary’s dream of catching a game of live cricket in the Mecca of Indian cricket, though, almost turned into a nightmare. It needed numerous calls to numerous people to finally live the dream.

The Diary was staying in a quaint little place next to the iconic Wankhede Stadium and the even older CCI-Brabourne Stadium was only a few minutes away.

However, with just 24 hours left for the game, there was no sight of the Diary’s IPL media accreditation and a friendly CCI official chimed in that it might be 150km away in Pune.

Frantic texts and calls followed; the application number was shared with the BCCI media coordinator. After a few hours of radio silence and a few unanswered calls, there was a cryptic message — “Call him” and a contact shared.

The nameless him said: “Let me see. Give me five minutes.”

His call finally brought some good news. “Meet me at Wankhede’s gate No. 2. I will hand over your accred (sic).”

Accreditation collected, the Diary and the now known him walked back to the same hotel.

Bombay/Bambai/Mumbai never fails to amuse!