The impending launch of the new 100-ball competition proves one thing in my eyes: the ECB are absolutely obsessed with the IPL. They’ve looked enviously at the money it rakes in, and they’re desperate not just to emulate the IPL but to better it. The goal, I assume, is to demonstrate that English cricket can be even more innovative, alluring, and perhaps even as influential one day, as its Indian counterpart.
Although I think the ECB have no chance of achieving this – the BCCI didn’t alienate existing cricket fans when they set up the IPL – it will be fascinating to see which aspects of the IPL’s marketing the ECB tries to imitate. The most obvious starting point is to create sexy team names that will presumably appeal to kids and impressionable adults. And why not? Anyone who’s watched the IPL knows that the franchises are the life and soul of the tournament’s culture.
There’s no doubt that the IPL rules the roost when it comes to funky names. They’ve had some crackers, as well as some stinkers, over the years -from the Delhi Daredevils, which is a perfectly-formed name that’s raises a smile without being too whacky, to the thankfully now defunct Rising Pune Supergiants, which must be one of the most eccentrically named franchises in sporting history. Although Peruvian football club Deportivo Wanka runs it close.
Unfortunately for Delhi Daredevils, however, the delightful catchiness and alliterative symmetry of the name hasn’t inspired the team to great heights. In fact, they’re one of only three teams – the others being the Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore – never to win an IPL title. Poor show.
Interestingly it’s the team with the most humdrum name, The Mumbai Indians, who have enjoyed the most success: they were crowned champions in 2013, 2015, and 2017. If the ECB’s investors are looking on keenly, as I’m sure they are, perhaps they’ll create a team in a similar mould – something like the London Englishmen seems natural. And if they want to raise the bar, as I’m sure they do, why not add a little extra dimension? The London English Gentlemen sounds spiffing.
The other IPL teams have historically enjoyed mixed fortunes – although it’s hard to ascertain how much this has to do with their names. Three of them follow a ‘royalty’ theme: the Chennai Super Kings (I assume they’re referring to an outstanding monarch rather than a best-forgotten cigarette brand), the Kings XI Punjab, and less creatively named but solemnly dignified sounding Rajasthan Royals.
Tom Harrison and Colin Graves will no doubt have identified that the UK has a royal heritage that might be exploited too. Indeed, the UK’s royal family is world renowned. I’d therefore like to recommend the following IPL-inspired franchise names: The Birmingham Beefeaters, The Manchester Markles and, of course, The Leeds Lizzies. All these suggestions are a marketer’s dream.
There’s also room, I assume, to imitate the Royal Challengers Bangalore in some form. I’ve placed the Royal Challengers in their own category (separate from the other ‘royals’) because I assumethis team is actively challenging royalty rather than being a collective of challengers (generally speaking) who happen to have royal blood. If my assumption is correct, then I’m very much looking forward to the English equivalents. The Southampton Subversives and the Cardiff Conspirators should do it. It’s a real shame that Scotland wasn’t blessed with a 100 franchisetoo, otherwise we could’ve had the Rutherglen Republicans. What a treat that would’ve been!
The other IPL team name that’s impossible not to love, especially for Michael Hasslehoff fans that love the concept of talking cars, is the Kolkata Knight Riders. This is one of my all-time favourite names. I’m sure that Andrew Strauss is scouring his copy of the Radio Times right now as he sourcesother classic TV shows. Don’t worry Lord Brocket my son, I’ve got the perfect suggestion for you: it’s the Nottingham BattlestarGalacticas. It rolls off the tongue beautifully.
Last but not least we must turn to the 2016 IPL champions, the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Personally I love this name – mostly because I’m a huge fan of solar events in general. As the marketing men will confirm, this name is both positive and aspirational. It promises a bright future and infuses its passionate supporters with an infectious optimism.
Because the IPL has been a huge success which has taken Indian cricket to new heights, it only seems natural that the ECB’s 100 competition is blessed with it’s own sun-related franchise.However, it’s probably more fitting for the ECB to create a team that reflects English cricket’s rapid descent into bankruptcy once the new competition bombs. With this in mind, I suggest that the second London franchise be called The Waterloo Sunsets.
Written in collaboration with Hotstar