Rajasthan Royals on Monday appointed star Australian all-rounder Shane Watson captain of the Jaipur franchise for the upcoming Indian Premier League in place of the retired Rahul Dravid who was anointed its mentor.
Former India captain Dravid, who retired from all forms of cricket last year, will be involved in all aspects of cricket strategy - mentoring the team and guiding youth and talent development initiatives for the franchise, Royals announced here today.
"I am honoured to lead the Rajasthan Royals, an extraordinary team which has always given me amazing opportunities," said the 32-year-old Australian on his new appointment for the upcoming IPL season scheduled to start next month.
"(Compatriot) 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," he said.
"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," he added about the franchise's initiative.
"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," he added.
Welcoming Watson's elevation, Dravid described the burly Aussie as a player with top notch leadership skills.
"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," the team's new mentor said.
"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 added. Watson has been with the Royals since the inaugural season in 2008.
Watson's strong performances helped the Royals win the IPL in its debut year, when he played under Shane Warne.
The strongly built Australian displayed his all-round skills and match-winning performances in crucial ties, and was eventually adjudged Player of the Tournament.
The Queensland-based all-rounder continued to play an integral part in subsequent editions and, in 2012, he played under Dravid.
Last year, Watson scored his first century in IPL and Twenty20, playing against Chennai Super Kings at the latter's fortress - the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chepauk.
His took the team to the play-offs that year, with Watson winning his second Player of the Tournament award.
Watson was won the prestigious Allan Border Medal in 2010 and 2011 awarded by Cricket Australia, becoming the second player, after Ricky Ponting, to achieve the feat.
He was also the 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.
Watson has been Royals' 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.
Royals CEO Raghu Iyer praised Watson's gritty demeanour.
"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," said Iyer.
"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," he said.
For the 2014 IPL season before the players' auction, the Royals had retained Watson, Ajinkya Rahane, James Faulkner, Stuart Binny and Sanju Samson.