As cricket fans, our minds are always full of curious questions for those that play the game, and are close to it. And our Super Royals are no different. They are passionate about the sport, and are emotionally connected with their favourite Rajasthan Royals players. It’s only natural that they too have questions revolving around the team’s strategies on the field, as well as what goes on behind the scenes. Imagine getting these questions answered by someone who knows the squad in and out?
Well, we brought all these questions straight to our Director of Cricket Kumar Sangakkara and he happily obliged to answer as many as possible in an exclusive “Ask Me Anything” virtual session with the Super Royals.
One of the most critical aspects of the Royals way of coaching is investing heavily in the year-round development of our players instead of solely focusing on the usual in-season preparations that’s commonplace in the cricketing world. And it is where player development camps play a huge role, where our Royals spend time with the coaches and support staff that helps them analyse their physical and mental readiness before any upcoming tournament. When asked what keeps Sanga busy when he’s not with the team in the IPL, this is what he had to say:
“A little bit planning for next season, of course, we are in the process of running our development camps. And we've started our first trial looking at players that we might want to sign for the auction. So what we've done differently over the last three years is now we are into year-round player development rather than having players coming into the franchise for a season then going away and doing their own thing. We have a lot more control over how we develop players over the years. You would have seen the results in Dhruv Jurel and of course now Yashasvi Jaiswal doing so well for the Indian senior team. And that is a coordination of the vision that the franchise has along with the analytics team.”
Another interesting question that came from one of the Super Royals was, “What motivated Sanga to join the Royals when he arrived in 2021?”
“What motivated me mainly was Manoj Badale, the Lead Owner calling me and having a chat about what he saw for the franchise or how we wanted to change from what's been before. And he was keen to know whether I would like to play a part in it. I had lots of conversations with everyone involved at the franchise and I really got an idea of the kind of vision that the owners had charted out.”
One of the biggest reasons for Sanga’s involvement with the franchise was also the fact that the Royals have been considered as an underdog side over the years, because they had a different way of looking at player recruitment. We’ve all seen how Shane Warne led a team of lesser-known but talented cricketers to the first-ever IPL title victory in 2008. And it set the precedent for the Royals to establish themselves as the franchise that gave importance to unearthing hidden talent across the country and giving them a big platform to showcase their potential.
That philosophy also reflects in the way the Royals have built their squads in the past few seasons - going from a team with underdog, rookie players featuring international superstars - to having a strong core of experienced Indian and overseas players with room for young and budding talent to come in and express themselves freely.
The conversations then moved towards the upcoming 2023 ODI World Cup in India, with the Super Royals eager to know Sanga’s predictions.
“I would always say the team that ends up playing at home is the toughest to beat. But because of the IPL, so many other teams have learned to play in subcontinent conditions. Chief among them would be England and New Zealand, Australia too. India would fancy their chances with a full strength side.”
Sanga also picked the two Royals he fancies seeing in India’s World Cup squad, as he thinks their recent performances have been impressive.
“I would love to see Sanju Samson and Yashasvi Jaiswal both in this World Cup. Sanju with his keeping ability apart from his incredible batting, and Yashasvi at the top of the order doing what he does best - I think it’s going to be a tough selection deal. Hopefully, they will get in.”
To conclude the session, there were some fun rapidfire questions that the Super Royals bowled to Sanga, and we must say, the legendary Sri Lankan did a fine job at hitting each one out of the park!
Q: What’s the one thing you like about India?
A: Its people! Everywhere you go, the people are kind, courteous and they love cricket. And of course, the biryani!
Q: Any favourite Indian song that you’ve heard?
A: I think “Kajra re” and “Desi Girl”. Some great songs from the movie Bombay. Bollywood music is so famous, you’re exposed to it all the time!
Q: Any hobbies that you have?
A: I’m trying to get better at golf. I used to read a lot but it’s just Netflix and Amazon Prime now. I also love cooking!
Q: Will we see you acting in any movies or shows?
A: Oh no no. I’m a terrible actor.