Rajasthan Royals today announced Shane Watson as the captain for the upcoming Pepsi Indian Premier League 2014. Shane Watson has been with the Royals since the inaugural season in 2008 and contributed to the team at all levels. Rahul Dravid, who retired from all forms of cricket in 2013, will be involved in all aspects of cricket strategy - mentoring the team and guide youth and talent development initiatives for the franchise.
Watson's strong performances helped Rajasthan Royals win the inaugural IPL in 2008, while playing under the inspiring leadership of Shane Warne. The young Australian displayed his all-round skills and match-winning performances in crucial ties, and eventually was adjudged the Player-of-the-Tournament.
The Queensland-based all-rounder continued to play an integral part of the franchise in subsequent editions, and in 2012, he played under another legendary player and former India skipper Rahul Dravid. In Pepsi IPL 2013, Watson scored his first century in IPL and Twenty20, playing against Chennai Super Kings at MA Chidambaram Stadium. His strong performances continued and subsequently took the team to the Play-Offs that year, with Watson winning his second Player-of-the-Tournament award.
Rahul Dravid, the former captain of Rajasthan Royals, said: "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."
Shane Watson, the newly appointed captain, 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.
Raghu Iyer, CEO, Rajasthan Royals, said: "We are delighted to announce Watson as Captain. 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." He added, "We'd also like to thank our fans who have supported us unstintingly and came out strongly on the digital medium in favour of Watto as Captain for the upcoming seasons! We are confident all Royals fans will get behind Watson and the team and drive us to perform our best on the field."
The 32-year-old Aussie was bestowed with the 2010 Allan Border Medal and again in 2011 by Cricket Australia, becoming the second player, after Ricky Ponting, to win back-to back Allan Border Medals. Shane Watson was declared Player-of-the-Tournament in the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 for scoring a total of 249 with an average of 49.80, while taking 11 wickets with the ball. Since he joined Rajasthan Royals, Watson has been the team's best all-rounder, notching 1,785 runs in 55 matches, scoring one century and 11 half-centuries at a strike rate of 145.59. In bowling, he claimed 48 wickets with a best figure of 3/10.
Watto, as he is popularly known, will be using six years of experience with the Royals to be the driving force of the team and help deliver wonderful performances for the team's fans and supporters.
For the Pepsi IPL 2014 season, Rajasthan Royals retained their star performer Watto, who is very popular among Rajasthan fans, before the fresh auction, along with Ajinkya Rahane, James Faulkner, Stuart Binny and Sanju Samson.