The 15th season joined of IPL is certainly a different one, with 2 new teams being added and a rejig amongst the players too.
It was an absolute delight talking to Col. Arvider Singh, COO of Gujrat Titans, the new team who have not lost a game yet.
Having served in the Indian Army for over two decades, Col. Arvinder’s tryst with cricket began in 2008 when he joined Punjab Kings (formerly known as Kings XI Punjab) and was with them for 6 years, moving on to Gujrat Lions, which was a part of IPL for 2017 and 2018. Followed by brief stint handling the Abu Dhabi T10 league before joining the newest team in the Indian Premier League, Gujrat Titans. It’s been a good 15 years that he has been associated with cricket.
We then went on to understand his role as the COO of a cricket franchise and how a franchise functions off the ground. He said while the primary aspect that is visible to the world is the team and the cricket aspect that takes place on the ground, but behind that it’s like any other business. As a COO his role mainly revolves around the commercial side that involves sponsorship, PR, marketing, sales, legal, finance etc. Basically all the hard work that goes behind the scenes, i.e. off the ground is looked after by him.
As for the on ground management, it’s an another set of people that includes the Director of Cricket Mr. Solanki, who deals with the coaching staff, Ashish Nehra who is the head coach. Then they have a team of support staff, which includes the assistant coaches. There is also a management side of the team, comprising of the team manager, assistant team mangers, physios, masseuse, the logistics team.
Talking about being in the bubble for the whole tournament, Singh says, “it will be almost 2.5 months for us in the bubble and it is indeed a different and slightly difficult life. So what we are trying to do is to identify a hotel where the players get some space of their own. We have tried to create an atmosphere for the players that is as close as possible to normal, where they have access to recreational activities and can also bond with each other, especially on non-practice days.” Being a team of 23 players, he stressed that it’s important to take care of the players who are not playing for the particular matches so they don’t feel left out, since it’s a long drawn tournament. “Mental well-being is of utmost importance for all the players as we don’t want any of them to have the so called bubble fatigue.”, he adds.
Being a new entrant with new players, GT’s performance in IPL 2022 was eagerly anticipated by cricket lovers all over, and I must say that they haven’t disappointed the fans yet by winning both the games, so my obvious next question to him was to know the current mood in the franchise amongst the players and also how does he feel about the wins. He attributes the success as a joint effort of the team and the fact that they are in absolute synchrony despite spending only a short span of time with each other. He
also lauds the leadership displayed by the captain Hardik Pandya who has led the team both on and off the field in this debutant role. He calls Pandya the binding / gelling factor as he makes an effort to connect with everyone be it the players or the support staff. Not to forget the experience that Ashish Nehra, Vikram Solanki and Gary Kirsten bring with them. He believes that teams who have a sense of bonding and respect for each other are more likely to succeed.
Being a franchise owner myself, I can vouch for the fact that building a franchise from scratch is not an easy task. It is very important to ensure that you have the right people for the right task. “While we don’t interfere with the responsibilities related to the on ground aspect of the game, which is in the able hands of Vikram Solanki and his team, we ensure that they don’t face any difficulties in carrying out their roles.” Says Singh.
Talking about Pandya’s captaincy we cannot miss talking about the wise decision he took in the second game against Delhi, when he turned the tables by replacing Shami with Lockie, which made GT win the game. He also highlighted the character of the team in the first game when Miller along with finished the game despite the former not attending any practices due to the quarantine rules.
Next I asked him as to which team does GT feel is a close competition in this tournament. He said, “Being a new team, we are not carrying any baggage as we are a clean slate. Our philosophy is 2 fold, it is welcoming art and courageous minds, we want to be known as people’s team, for them to be proud of our performance on the field. Nobody can guarantee a win or loss; it is the brand of cricket that we play. And this is something that Solanki, Nehra and their teams focus on. For us every team is equal.”
He adds that no matter how calm they try to be during a match, they can’t help control the emotions on crucial moments, because they have seen the players putting in the efforts. We wish the Gujrat teams all the very best and hope to see them in the finals!