Like many people, I was initially drawn to the Rajasthan Royals because of their underdog story. The cheapest team! The one with all those Indian unknowns!
The narrative has some good things going for it: first, it shows off how much Indian cricketing talent goes unnoticed (hint, hint, national selectors); second, it shows how players can be spotted, picked, and then nurtured in a collegial atmosphere; third, it upended all our assumptions about quality and money.
But there’s a little post-colonial problem, alas. Watching the IPL coverage, I feel like too much credit goes to Shane Warne rather than the players themselves. We have a team that is almost completely run by white people (even if its owners are Indian), who are usually praised for helping the young Indians “mature.” You saw this best in the 18th match against the Delhi Daredevils, when an out-of-form Graeme Smith supposedly guided a mercurial Yusuf Pathan to victory. The scorecard says something different: Pathan, 62* off 30 balls; Smith, 44* from 46.
Am I reading too much here? Perhaps. As Tishani Doshi recently wrote, Warne has clearly turned a corner on his brash side and is almost always ready with an encouraging word. But it’s always the same framework in the commentary: wise Warne, young Indians; knowing Warne, brash Indians. You can almost hear Rudyard Kipling nodding in the stands.