Rajasthan Royals have retained England’s Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer for the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League but have released Australia’s Steve Smith.
Paceman Archer was named Most Valuable Player in last year’s competition after taking 20 wickets in 14 matches, with 175 dot balls – although Royals missed out on the play-offs, finishing eighth.
Buttler lit up the tournament at intervals despite being moved around the batting order, his return of 328 runs including 70 not out from 48 balls at number five against Chennai.
Meanwhile, Stokes struck the franchise’s only century of the campaign – a magnificent 107no – while Smith contributed three fifties.
Confirming that Sanju Samson will take over the captaincy, Royals owner Manoj Badale reflected: “Royals captaincy is a post for which we are lucky to have had so many greats of the game – Warne, Dravid, Watson, Rahane, and most recently Steve Smith. Steve has been a great player and great leader for the Royals, and we want to thank him for his contribution to the franchise.
Forever a Royal…💗
Some special memories Smudge. 🤝#RoyalsFamily | @stevesmith49 pic.twitter.com/esOSQVtAtP
“As the IPL has grown, the captaincy has become a year-round task, and as such strong local Indian leadership has become increasingly important. Sanju made his debut as a Royal, and it has been a joy to watch his development over the last eight years. He is the ideal person to lead the Royals into the 2021 season.”
Samson added “It’s an absolute honour to have been announced as the captain of Rajasthan Royals. It’s a team that is so close to my heart, which I’ve been lucky enough to play for over the years, and I’m excited about the challenge that lies ahead of me as the leader of the team.
“The Royals have had some wonderful captains over the years and I’m so grateful for all the time I’ve spent working with and learning from great leaders like Rahul Dravid, Shane Watson, Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith!! I now cannot wait to get started and look forward to the season ahead.”
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