Shane Warne is much loved here. Before the Rajasthan Royals skipper, surrounded by bouncers, stepped into the practice arena on Sunday, his fans swarmed around him for a picture. He obliged, pushing the guards aside.
Warne is retiring at the end of this IPL season and he will play his final games at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium on Monday and Wednesday. Whether people will throng to catch a final glimpse of the man, who led them to the inaugural title, is not known, but the Royals want to see a packed stadium.
For the last couple of matches, against Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore, they are giving heavy discounts of 46 per cent on high-end tickets --- those worth Rs 5,000 or more.
"Since Warne's jersey number is 23, we thought we'd play on it. We decided to double the jersey number, and give a discount per cent of that figure to the buyers of our hospitality products. It's our way of honouring him," said a Rajasthan Royals official.
The Royals have struggled to bring capacity crowds for the games in this hot weather and the move could help bring in more people.
They are also thinking of 'freezing' jersey number 23 and not giving it to any other player.