Ever since Rajasthan Royals retained Steven Smith for the next edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the speculations are rife that the Jaipur-based franchise can actually name Smith as its captain.
But Rajasthan Royals’ lead owner, Manoj Badale, told Sportstar that the franchise’s focus has always been to ‘build a broad leadership team and not just a captain.’
“We need to have people in the team who can lead, as well as support in developing the younger talent. We are lucky to have several players with exceptionally strong leadership capabilities, therefore we know we will have both, a strong leadership team and captain, come the start of the season,” Badale said.
After naming the Australian as captain last season, Royals suffered as Smith was suspended for a year by Cricket Australia (CA) on charges of ball-tampering.
And the Royals boss is happy to have got Smith back. “His IPL experience is extremely valuable to our team and he is one of the best batsmen in the world. We know Steve is very excited to be back playing in the IPL and we all can't wait for the upcoming season,” Badale said.
Last season, the team missed Smith immensely, and Ajinkya Rahane, had to step up as the captain. This time by retaining the core, what does the franchise expect from the season?
“Anyone would miss a batsman of Steve’s calibre, but we were very happy with how the team performed and making to the play offs was a great achievement,” Badale said.
“We built a talented, but relatively young squad in 2018 and therefore to reach the play-offs shows how well the players came together as a team to succeed. We believe the retained team has the potential to deliver another successful season and we cannot wait for it to begin,” the lead owner said.
While Smith and David Warner have featured in most of the franchise-based leagues across the globe, Cricket Australia still hasn’t decided whether to reduce the tenure of their bans.
Badale, however, is confident of getting back Smith. “The BCCI had only banned Smith for the 2018 IPL, therefore we do not believe this will impact the 2019 season, especially as the CA ban comes to an end on March 29th,” Badale stated.
With Smith back in its side, the franchise hopes to make it count in the coming season.
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