Bye, Bye IPL. Come Back with Better Names Next Season


Bye, Bye IPL. Come Back with Better Names Next Season

Illustration: Saachi Mehta/ Arré

It’s that time of the year when there is longing, expectation, and anticipation in the air. The monsoon is on its way in and the Indian Premier League on its way out. After today, no more will cries of “YES Bank Maximum”, “Karbonn Kamaal Katch” or “Gajodhar Piles Clinic Caught Behind” emanate from our television sets. Pubs will no longer shove IPL happy hours down our throats, and we will get a much-needed break from Virat Kohli and his wonder hand. But most of all, we will finally begin to let those ghastly team names fade from our collective memory.

With all the crapload of cash the league has invested in buying semi-decent players and albino cheerleaders, one would think the IPL would shell a few pennies to come up with names that don’t sound like they’ve been coined by a three-year-old. I feel especially bad for my hometown, Hyderabad. It’s bad enough that the city has to contend with disappearing lakes, pollution of the Musi river, ocular assaults by pink banners, and inadequate public transport. Now they have to deal with a cricket team that sounds like a bunch of coffeewallas at Nampally station aggressively selling their watered-down product. Nothing good can ever come out of product plugs in a team name, as they may discover on the field today.

But really, I shouldn’t rant about Hyderabad when the Pune team has a name that sounds like an ad for erectile dysfunction. Rising Pune Supergiants! The only possible reason to go with this name is if a sponsorship with Pfizer, the makers of Viagra, is on the horizon. Nomenclature has never been the strong point of this team (but then, neither has their performance). It was once called Pune Warriors India, as if they were making an earnest attempt to clarify their country of origin, in the event that you confuse them with Pune Warriors Burkina Faso.

Where, I ask, does this need to attach India/Indians to everything come from? What do the guys at Mumbai Indians think the rest of us are? Illegal Bangladeshi immigrants? I feel like I must assure the IPL committee that the rest of us – the non-Puneris and the non-Mumbaikars – are Indians too, and that we shall not be boarding a train to Pakistan anytime soon.

The good people of Kings XI have also thoughtfully provided a clue as to how many of their players are on the field at one time to avoid any confusion.

But bigger than IPL’s love toward “India”, is their love for royalty. First among the aristocrats is the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) team. Instead of picking a name that resonates with the inhabitants of the city, like say, the Bangalore Traffic Jammers, or Bangalore Start-uppers, they chose a name inspired by “packaged drinking water”. This season RCB had a new red-and-black kit resulting in their supporters looking like they were at a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) rally in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. This could be a sign that the party is planning to expand its horizons after forecasting its defeat in the recent elections. But highly placed sources have confirmed that it isn’t. Amma will take note anyway.

The other royal family, the Kings XI Punjab, do not ambiguously suggest a royal lineage like some others, they simply tell you that they’re the kings and that the rest of us just have to deal with it. The good people of Kings XI have also thoughtfully provided a clue as to how many of their players are on the field at one time to avoid any confusion. But the royal lineage hasn’t really helped their cause – they were beaten by the common Knights in 2014, and this year they have hit rock-bottom. (Quick aside: Is it only me or does Knight Riders sound like a soft porno playing at your shady neighbourhood theatre?)

But hey, to be fair, not all the names are inane. For instance, the Gujarat Lions. It is a name that makes perfect sense. Gujarat is indeed home to the Asiatic lion, and years of marketing have confirmed that a wide public perception is that lions are indeed fearless. The name does evoke a sense of the regal bravery of Ranjitsinhji playing a leg glance (perhaps a switch hit would be more appropriate in this context). Everything was going peachy until an uncleji on a Bandra local ruined it for me by referring to them repeatedly as “the Loins”. After that, every time time I saw a match featuring Gujarat, all I could hear was a gruff voice in my head saying, “Sara shehar mujhe loin ke naam se jaanta hai.” I haven’t been able to watch them since.

IPL has a whole year before it comes back to haunt us once again. In my considered opinion, the powers that be should take this year to deeply introspect the many, many ways they can stop being the butt of all jokes and start being considered a serious sport.

Use the time well guys, and for God’s sake fire that three-year-old.