In a case perhaps akin to counting ones chickens before they are hatched, the Rajasthan Royals have gone ahead and retained their captain Shane Warne as well as all-rounder Shane Watson for the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The franchise is not out of the woods as yet with regard to their on-going case against the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) over its termination, but on the back of a six week stay on their expulsion, Rajasthan is free to conduct business as a regular part of the IPL.
The Royals are also in talks with two Indian players ahead of the Dec 8th deadline for teams to nominate players they desire to keep from going into the upcoming auction. Each franchise is allowed to retain up to four players, of which no more than three can be Indian.
"We are extremely happy to have signed on Shane Warne and Shane Watson," said Raghu Iyer, the spokesperson for Rajasthan. "Both of them have been an important, crucial part of the Royals. Watson was the Player of the Tournament in year one and Warne's leadership skills are what everybody talks about."
Rajasthan will be set back by $1.8 million per year from the auction pool for the first player retained and $1.3 million per year for the second player kept back.
Warne led Rajasthan to an improbably title in 2008, the IPL's first season. He was the league's second highest wicket-taker, with 19 wickets at an average of 21.26, while Watson notched up 472 runs at an average of 47.20 and a strike-rate of 151.76, while also ensnaring 17 wickets at an average of 22.52. Both players had been badly hit by Rajasthan's expulsion from the IPL on October 10 by the BCCI.
In response to its termination order, Rajasthan took the BCCI to court with the case going into arbitration. In late Nov, the arbitrator, justice B N Srikrishna granted teh aggrieved franchise a 6-week stay on its expuslon, in effect allowing it to resume business with the IPL. The Board has since appealed against the interim order, but there are no signs of it being overturned.
The initial deadline for player nominations was Dec 6, but the Bombay High Court directed the BCCI to extend it to Dec 8 after Kings XI Punjab, the other terminated franchise, accused the board of deliberately delaying the arbitration hearings over their expulsion so the original deadline could expire.