Australia's Shane Watson will lead Rajasthan Royals in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League, the franchise announced today. The all-rounder will replace Rahul Dravid who retired from all forms of cricket in 2013. The franchise also announced that Rahul Dravid will be associated with the team as a mentor and its guide youth and talent development initiatives.
This comes as a huge boost for a franchise which is still recovering from last year's IPL spot-fixing scandal involving three of its players.
“We are delighted to announce Watson as captain," Raghu Iyer, CEO of Rajasthan Royals said in a statement. "He epitomises all the values of the Royals franchise with his true grit and never-say-die attitude. His skills and experience will surely help the team build on the superb performance last season. His presence in the team will also help young players like Sanju Samson, Unmukt Chand, James Faulkner, Steve Smith and Tim Southee."
Watson has been with the Rajasthan Royals since its inception and Dravid is confident about Watson's leadership.
“I would like to congratulate Shane Watson on his appointment as the captain of the Royals. He is not only one of the world's best all-rounders, but a leader par excellence. Watson has been with the team since the first season and is familiar with the players and the staff. The Royals Squad is a bunch of extremely energetic and talented players who know their roles perfectly well and I am sure they will thrive under Watson’s inspiring leadership,” Dravid said.
Watson, who was one of five players retained by the franchise under the IPL's new retention rules, has been the cornerstone of Royals' batting line-up in the IPL and is currently the second-highest run-getter in the tournament for the franchise behind Dravid.
On being appointed as captain, Watson said, "I am honoured to lead the Rajasthan Royals, an extraordinary team which has always given me amazing opportunities. Shane Warne and Rahul Dravid had a lot of faith in me while they were captains and gave me opportunities that helped improve my cricket. I hope to live up to the confidence shown in me by the franchise and give our fans an exciting season of cricket. I would like to thank our fans for showing trust in me through their votes on the digital medium. The Royals are one big family and I feel very privileged to be a part of such a special franchise."
“My aim will be to continue playing our best cricket and maintain the winning momentum. We all want to repeat the 2008 IPL success and last season, we were quite close to that. I am confident that we can do it again," Watson added.
Rajasthan Royals were the winners of the first IPL in 2008 and Watson played a crucial role in lifting the coveted trophy. The franchise would be hoping that the all-rounder leads from the front and repeats the first season heroics this time around.