The interesting part of the word “culture” is how it exists and affects us in our state of mind and actions. The meaning, very simply put, describes It, “as a social behavior of a particular person or society”, but even in very similar professions or surroundings, the culture of a person or a team differentiates itself quite significantly.
A good example of this is the Mumbai Ranji Trophy side. Having won the tournament 41 times, it has an aura of being “winners’. That is why on many occasions when the chips were down, they still pulled through and came out victorious. In the Indian Premier League (IPL), none of the teams can claim to be superior to the other, although the Mumbai Indians(MI) and the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have had relatively better success. Therefore, they developed a certain culture that one felt was quite prominent in the way they bid for certain players in the recent IPL auction. CSK was very conservative and went for the experienced and older tried and tested players whereas, MI got entangled, as one can term it, into an emotional affair. The other IPL teams were very similar in their cultural approach as to how they were perceived in the past, especially on the way they bought their players. There was no radical change in their way of thinking.
The team that one felt was different, maybe because they have been away from the IPL for 2 years, was Rajasthan Royals. This team, having won the inaugural tournament had thereafter, got branded as a side that encouraged young untapped talent. They were respected for this attitude and approach of helping Indian cricket to develop, but were never considered to be favourites to win the tournament.
Rajasthan Royals this year, have shown a change in their cultural approach. Change as one says is constant and is essential to encounter the possible disruptions in the future. RR have shown a different “avatar” in the way they have accumulated their band of cricketers. They retained just one player-Steve Smith. This was a superb strategic move, as they plan to imbibe the most revered culture in world cricket, “the Australian approach”.
The aggressive approach of RR came forth even more strongly, when they outbid and purchased the present best all-rounder in the world, Ben Stokes. The England star, having been kept out of International cricket, will be fresh and raring to prove his worth. These two cricketers will bring a completely new culture into the Rajasthan Royals DNA. They are both performers of the highest class and for the rest of the side to keep abreast with them, the others in the team will need to strive many notches higher.
The RR team also managed to get into their fold Ajinkya Rahane. He is an established Indian cricketer, presently the vice-captain of the Indian Test team and one of the most successful players in the past for RR. He earned his stripes for India only after he played for RR and has been a prolific run-getter in the IPL. The other old hands of RR, who have gone on to play International cricket for India, are the explosive and stylish Sanju Samson, the consistent top domestic Indian all-rounder, Stuart Binny and Mumbai’s go to man and fast bowler, Dhawal Kulkarni.
The most challenging aspect for the former players to adapt to, will be to the change in the culture of the RR approach.
The RR team at the auction was aggressive and focused when they created a sensation by purchasing Jaydev Unadkat, the left arm fast bowler who performed brilliantly in IPL 2017.
The Rajasthan Royals seem to be blinkered in only one direction and that is to win. They have shown it “off the field” in the way they have compiled their side, now its left to them to do so, “on the field” as well.
A winning culture is not a bad place to start from.
About the author:
Yajurvindra Singh is a former cricketer who represented India between 1977 and 1979. He enjoys the unique distinction of achieving 2 world records – 5 catches in an innings, and 7 catches in a match - on his debut.
Disclaimer: Please note that the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Rajasthan Royals or its management.