The 2017 Indian Premier League is the 10th edition of the world’s biggest Twenty20 tournament and this season has been full of enthralling cricket, boisterous commentary, passionate crowds, and no shortage of Bollywood glitz and glamour.
While the standard of cricket in the IPL is arguably the best of all the franchise T20 tournaments that have now popped up around the world since the BCCI-ran tournament broke new ground in 2008, what really makes it stand out from its competitors is the touch of Indian and Bollywood flair — from dancers, fireworks, and lavish opening ceremonies to famous owners and colourful uniforms.
However, the one aspect of IPL that has always made me laugh, for its sheer ridiculousness, are the franchise names of some of the teams. So let’s take a look at those names, from the good, the bad, and the downright tacky. And along the way we can suggest some improvements.
Firstly the Gujarat Lions — I would like to congratulate the owners of one of the IPL’s two newest franchises for coming up with a genuine, simple, yet strong team name. Lions are the king of the jungle, a fearsome beast of an animal, and always a great name for a sports team. Now only if Gujarat’s on-field performances could match their team name. The Lions do score one negative point with me for their colour scheme — I’m still trying to work out if they are meant to be orange and blue or red and blue?
Next, the Delhi Daredevils also have a more than acceptable team name. While I think a devil would be more menacing than a daredevil, it has a good ring to it and points for being unique without being silly. Kudos to the owners.
Kings XI Punjab is definitely a unique name, and while it is a bit strange I can see what Preity Zinta and Co were going for. I assume they wanted a mixture of something that sounded regal, as well as throwback to cricketing names such as Chairman’s XI, President’s XI which were used for invitational teams. The name is very apt, because over the last few seasons the Kings XI have definitely played like a makeshift team put together for the opposition to beat up on as a warm up to the real stuff.
So now we’ve covered the acceptable team names. Three out of eight ain’t bad, right?
Shah Rukh Khan is one of the biggest names in Bollywood, and the man stands out wherever he goes. It makes sense then that he wanted his IPL team to stand out with a name that sounds bold and brave — the Kolkata Knight Riders who wear purple and gold. They sure do stand out! But what’s a Knight Rider? Is it a knight who rides something? Or is SRK the world’s biggest David Hasselhoff fan? The Kolkata Knights would have been a much better name. So close, so very close.
When it comes to ridiculous names for a cricket team, my favourite is definitely Rising Pune Supergiant. Yes, you read that correctly. It is just one Supergiant, not many. And why is it rising? Has it been baked? Or is it the whole city of Pune that’s rising? One feels the owners were having a laugh when they came up with this team name, or it was the only combination of words left in some convoluted game of IPL scrabble. My suggestion — the Pune Giants. Simple, and strong.
Not far behind Pune in the awful name stakes are the Sunrisers Hyderabad. What actually is a Sunriser? And what is the relevance to the city of Hyderabad, a landlocked city in central/southern India. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so the friendly folk of Hyderabad are certainly not the first Indians to embrace the sun in the morning. However, if the franchise wants to stick to a name that involves heat or fire, then why not the Hyderabad Suns. Or even the Suns of Hyderabad if the first option is too normal. Personally, I would like a throwback to the old Deccan Chargers with a name like Hyderabad Bulls.
Royal Challengers Bangalore is an interesting one. Clearly named after their major sponsor and owner, like the Red Bull energy drink owned New York Red Bulls in USA’s Major League Soccer. However, a red bull is a powerful red animal. A Royal Challenger? Sounds like someone who wants to be king but isn’t quite there, which to be fair is perfect for the underachieving Bangalore franchise. As for an alternate name, well how about the Bangalore Pirates? Inspired by their colour scheme and the old pirate captain who dances along with the cheerleaders, plus pirates do like to drink whisky. Possibly even Royal Challenge.
The Mumbai Indians is a good solid name, inspired by the likes of Canadian hockey teams the Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens. A name that represents the country. Only one problem, the Mumbai side isn’t all-Indian. I guess Mumbai Indians and four other dudes doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, nor do Mumbai want to limit themselves to being the only all-Indian franchise. So unfortunately, the name doesn’t fit the team. Mumbai are the traditional powerhouse of Indian cricket and to reflect that, and their dashing blue and gold uniforms, I like the Mumbai Blues as it is a traditional name for a powerhouse sporting team (think Chelsea, France or New South Wales).
There are many things right with the IPL, it’s a fantastic spectacle and a great cricket tournament full of star players and star power. Unfortunately it can be difficult to suppress laughter when commentators are yelling out about RCBs and some sort of supergiant that is apparently rising. I love the IPL but I really do wish they would come up with some better names for their teams.