Too Many Cooks in the RCB “Mess”

The Royal Challengers Bangalore, unlike a few other franchises, has been a part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) since its inception. Previously owned by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, this is one team that has always boasted of big names in international cricket. At the very beginning of this star-studded league, the Royals were captained by The Wall – Rahul Dravid and the team was packed with big names like Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Jacques Kallis, Ross Taylor, Dale Steyn and also a young captain fresh from a U19 World Cup win – Virat Kohli. As years progressed, the team became heavier with even more such names which had made a huge mark playing for their countries. The likes of Steven Smith, Chetteshwar Pujara, Daniel Vettori, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Muttiah Muralitharan, Mitchell Starc, Chris Woakes, and Shane Watson, all joined the party.

Yet, in all the eleven seasons of the IPL, not once has this franchise laid their hands on the prized trophy. Given a line-up like this, one would have expected them to win at least one season of the IPL. Despite being the finalists for three times, they could not make it count even once, causing huge disappointment for their large fan base. Their journey through the IPL has been full of ups and downs. Some seasons, like that last one, have been absolute disasters while some were absolute treats like the IPL in 2016. However, fans’ frustration does not have an end as even after having some of the highest scores the team loses by a margin of just 8 runs in the final. This calls for some introspection and some backtracking to figure out what exactly is going wrong. Every season, the RCB team has more than one name to call out to.

The team skipper Virat Kohli is one of the most celebrated batsmen in the cricketing world, and AB de Villiers does not fall back either. Yet, for some reason, their efforts seem to not yield the expected results. So where exactly does the problem lie? It has been a long time debate that the RCB line-up is filled with batsmen of high caliber but does not have the required bowling attack to defend the scores. This is one aspect that has been talked about for quite some time now. We have seen that the RCB has, on numerous occasions, failed to defend very high scores and has not been able to restrict the opposition to a respectable total either. This is an issue that has been troubling the team and the management. To fill the void, pacer Mitchell Starc was brought from down under, but that still failed to bridge the gap between the team and the trophy.

RCB’s bowling woes continued despite having all-rounders in the team as well. Surprisingly, individual performances, despite being brilliant in their own way, seemed to never translate into a comprehensive series win for the team. To blame RCB’s IPL performance on the bowlers alone would be wrong. One would expect that they would always be able to post decent totals despite the nature of their bowling since the team has always had great batsmen. However, this myth has been shattered time and again. Along with having some of the highest totals in the series, RCB also has some of the lowest scores over the years. The lowest ever score by a team in the IPL history has been by the Royal Challengers from Bangalore ─ bundled out for a mere 49 runs against the Knight Riders from Kolkata in the 2017 edition of the league.

In the list of top 10 lowest totals by teams in the IPL, Bangalore features thrice, something not many would fathom given the kind of batsmen the team has and had in the past. There seems to be some inherent problem that is not being gauged by the management or the coaches or even the players. Few said captaincy might be an issue and that the more experienced AB should be made the captain. But the same captain has gotten us results for the national side time and again. With every match of the Challengers, a whole new set of issues seem to emerge. Something is not going right for the team, and it is high time it is figured out. RCB has always had the best team. But what if, this exactly, is the problem? Big names, each with a style and statement and with a legacy of their own might be the root of the problem. As a result, RCB is more of a collection of jewels rather than a creatively made ornament.

That is to say, this team is more an assembly of individual brilliance than a wholesome team. It is not necessary that such varied talent will always complement each other. What this repeated failure does is brings the fans’ morale down. Because of the big names, RCB boasts of, the team has always had a very huge fan base. Every year, these fans come out in large numbers painted in red depicting their undying support for their team. Yet, at the end of each season, they are left disappointed. When the team performs exceptionally well as it did throughout the 2016 season of the IPL, hopes are high and fans start believing that maybe, finally, it is their year. Yet, all the hopes come crashing down when the team fails to make it count.

And when the team performs disastrously throughout the season, like the last two editions, it is a different kind of a disappointment for the fans. Again, this year’s league that began on 23rd March did not seem to promise much as a balanced Chennai team managed to restrict the Challengers to just 70 runs. The very first match of the season looked dismal and lacked the zeal that the fans have been waiting to see for years. Now is the time that the management took some hard calls. It is time the fans got what they have been waiting for, for more than ten years now. Because come what may, the support, the enthusiasm and the determination must not perish. The love must not perish. The chants of “Aaaar Ceee Beee” must not perish.

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