American college footballer, athletic director and coach Joe Paterno was once quoted saying, “It’s the name on the front of the jersey that matters most, not the one on the back.” The back name and jersey number defines the player and his personality, while the front name — that of the team — is supposed to symbolise either the place or some aspect of the city. In domestic matches across the globe, team names are often unusual or catchy. These names are typically designed to appeal to the fans, in order to get the merchandises sold.
Of late, domestic league franchises have attained a new degree when it comes to naming their teams. The trend of having animals associated with franchises is considered hep. Some are backed up with reasons while some are out of the blue. Pakistan’s Under-19 domestic teams and South Indian T20 leagues are some of the frontrunners when it comes to this. From lions to zebras to cobras, cricket has seen it all. We have ‘hunted down’ some of the best ones.
Mind you, this has nothing to do with the nicknames some national sides are affectionately called by their fans. For example, the Bangladesh team are called the Tigers; Sri Lanka, the Lions; Australia, the Kangaroos; New Zealand, the Kiwis; Nepal, the Rhinos; and Papua New Guinea, the Barramundis. However, these names are not official and have nothing to do with our list.
Karachi Zebras: Karachi and zebras have no connection. The poor monochrome creature has just been dragged in to make the name sound fancier. In Pakistan National T20 Cup, however, the two names have somehow been associated with each other.
Amo Sharks:A landlocked country like Afghanistan and a scary aquatic animal are not remotely related. Yet, the Sharks participate in the Afghanistan T20 league along with a few others.
Barisal Bulls: It is not clear exactly why Barisal has been linked with bulls. We do not even know whether the connection is bovine or financial. Who let the bulls out, one wonders: inspired by Chicago Bulls, perhaps?
Cape Cobras: Finally, a team outside the subcontinent. Cape Cobras are based in Cape Town. While one typically associates cobras with India, Africa has her share of cobras too — most infamously the spitting cobra. They could have chosen a snake one associates more with Africa, but Cape Mambas do not have the same impact.
Hubli Tigers: Why Tigers? There are certainly none in the vicinity. Sushil Jindal, owner of Hubli Tigers, provided the reason: “I am a wildlife enthusiast and I especially like tigers, which was why I named my team Hubli Tigers.” No-nonsense.
Pakistan Eaglets: Justice AR Cornelius had formed the Eaglets with noble intentions. The young Pakistanis toured the British Isles throughout the 1950s, and even later. Exactly why eagles were chosen as inspiration behind the name, however, is not very clear.
FATA Cheetahs: If a foodie is reading this then at first sight it might look like Feta Cheese. Alas! This is a team name. FATA is a tribal region in Pakistan. Also, no cheetah is found in this area. Again a no connection name.
Rawalpindi Rams: As we continue to crack the names of the cricket teams, it is difficult to fathom the randomness in naming a team. Like Rawalpindi, they included Rams knowing that they are not closely or remotely related to the country. Inspired by American football team Los Angeles Rams, is it?
Quetta Bears: When I think of bears the only one I can remember is that of Jungle Book or maybe the grizzly bears found in Switzerland. When and how did they land in Pakistan, nobody knows.
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