Bravo Royals!

VIVEK BENDRE

It takes a lot of courage and conviction to back young and raw talent in a tournament where the stakes are high. Rajasthan Royals have done a great job of picking the right talent.

The eighth edition of the Indian Premier League is beginning to warm up, and a lot of twists and turns are bound to happen as the tournament progresses. However, Rajasthan Royals have played outstanding cricket thus far, and they look like the team to beat in this edition. In as much as the IPL has withstood all trials and tribulations, the methods adopted by the various teams in picking a squad make for interesting case studies. No doubt, each franchisee does an in depth analysis and decides on various criteria before picking the players. But eventually, the squad picked in the end does reflect on the culture and approach of the various franchisees.

Interestingly enough, Rajasthan Royals have encouraged sincere, hard working cricketers right from the inception of the IPL. The decision to do so might have been prompted by a combination of dynamics in the T20 format, as well as economics.

The T20 format requires athleticism, fearlessness and calculated aggression. Hence, it is no wonder that Rajasthan Royals went for youngsters who were keen to perform in the high profile league and get to the next level. Besides, the Royals earmarked a certain amount of money to be spent in the auction. The reluctance to spend the entire purse meant that they had to go for players with speed, agility, aggression and the will to succeed. Yet the Royals had to pick cricketers with all these attributes at reasonable prices. It has to be said that the people concerned have done a great job in putting together highly competitive sides all these years.

The Royals have provided opportunities for youngsters to display their talent on the big stage. The IPL was touted as the platform to produce cricketers for India and the Royals have shown the way in that regard. They were shrewd in getting the mix right, in that they let the youngsters loose under the guidance of a couple of leading internationals. If it was Shane Warne and Darren Lehmann at the start of the IPL in 2008, it was Rahul Dravid (in pic) and Watson during the middle years of the IPL. The likes of Ravindra Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan emerged from the first batch of the Royals squad, while Rahane, Binny and Samson did in recent years.

It is said that the person managing a group influences his charges in more ways than one. Dravid’s influence is very apparent in the way Royals approach, compete, play and behave as a team. The Royals have shown that a collective effort from good cricketers is the recipe for success. They, like Dravid, are everyday cricketers. By that, I mean there will be no huge swings and the deviation from the norm will be negligible. The leaders (until now) of the table will be keen to prove a point given the controversy that haunted the team during the last IPL. It is a long way yet, but one can rest assured that the Royals will continue to play the game in a simple and clinical fashion.

The Royals may lack the aura of Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians, but in terms of efficiency, they are as good as any other team. It is not possible for a team to win repeatedly in the IPL, but if there is an award for encouraging youngsters and providing cricketers for the country, the Royals would have it locked up in their cupboard eternally. Team building is an engaging exercise wherein several paths are available and different parameters are involved. But it takes a lot of courage and conviction to back young and raw talent in a tournament where the stakes are high. The Royals have done a great job of picking the right talent for a long period of time. Bravo Dravid and his team!