January 16, 2011

Indian cricket

The real royals were at the Ranji Trophy final

Dustin Silgardo

Rajasthan’s IPL franchise may be called the Royals, but the Prince of Udaipur’s loyalties lie with the Ranji Trophy team, and he was there to witness them being crowned kings of India’s premier domestic competition. He was joined by the Yuvraj of Baroda in Moti Bagh’s ‘royal tent’. That’s right; no corporate boxes, podiums for cheerleaders or stages for Bollywood stars at this ground, but a tent to host the royal families of Baroda and visiting teams. The tent used to be bigger, according to Yuvraj Samarjitsingh Gaekwad, who is a member of the Baroda Cricket Association and grew up watching cricket at Moti Bagh. “It got eaten by termites,” he told the Indian Express. “Probably, if this match was played 50 years ago, we would have had elephants and caravans surrounding the ground.”

Rajasthan and Baroda’s cricketing histories have both been heavily influenced by their royal families, and Prince Lakshyaraj Singh, who is also the president of the Udaipur Cricket Association, was ecstatic after Rajasthan attained their first-ever Ranji title. “For 30 years, Rajasthan cricket has been struggling to make a significant impact,” he said. “While the win against Mumbai was very special, this is the perfect dessert after a grand feast. I am sure the souls of the past greats from my state, including my grandfather, will be popping champagne bottles as we speak.” There’s an old adage that only two men and a dog show up for Ranji Trophy games. But as long as those two men are princes, the players have something to play for.

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Dustin Silgardo is a former sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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