Rajasthan Royals on Monday announced Shane Watson will lead the team in the upcoming Indian Premier League 2014. The Australian all-rounder has been with the Royals since the inaugural season in 2008. Rahul Dravid, who retired from all forms of cricket in 2013, will be the team's mentor and guide youth and talent development initiatives for the franchise.
Under Shane Warne's captaincy, Watson's strong performances helped Rajasthan Royals win the inaugural IPL in 2008. 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, called Watto by his teammates, continued to play an integral part of the franchise in subsequent editions, and in 2012, he played under former India skipper Rahul Dravid. In 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.
Former Royals skipper Dravid said: "I would like to congratulate Shane (Watson) on his appointment as captain. 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."
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.
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."
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. Watson was 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, Watson claimed 48 wickets with a best figure of 3/10.