JAIPUR: Rajasthan Royals’ captain for IPL 7, Shane Watson tells TOI that not playing in Jaipur is extremely disappointing. Excerpts:
A lot has been said about Rajasthan Royals’ team spirit. How would you describe that?
We feel like we are one big family, and that’s as simple as it is. From our owners, management, all the way down to our players as well, everyone feels like we are there to look after everyone just like we are a family and that is how it is. It means we are doing everything we can to try and create a successful environment for one another.
How crucial is Rahul Dravid’s presence as mentor?
He’s certainly going to help us. Rahul is one of the best batsmen to have played any format of the game in last 15 years. He’s one of the most incredible people I have met in my life. Take his cricket abilities and his cricket expertise, it’s going to help every single person in our group, and he will certainly release the pressure off me.
How do you rate the Royals team this time?
We’re certainly going to be extremely competitive. We’ve got, in my thoughts, the strongest squad we’ve ever had for the Rajasthan Royals. We’ve got really hard quality options and back-up for every position in our team which we haven’t exactly had every year in the past. But that doesn’t certainly guarantee success or more success than we’ve had previously because the opposition has got the same thing. One less team this year means that there are more hard quality players that are around in every list. I think it’s going to be the most evenly fought IPL so far.
Would captaincy be an added pressure on you?
Not at all, in fact it will certainly motivate me more. Every year that I’ve played for the RR in the last six years has been a privilege, and now after six seasons to be captain is a true honour. I’m really lucky to be captaining the Rajasthan Royals. Being captain can put pressure on you, but it will also take the focus off my individual performance which is only a great thing.
Bowling looks more balanced. Will it take some pressure off?
Yeah, I think it will take pressure off me as a bowler. There’s no question. I know my role was predominantly to reinforce the team with the ball because the make-up of our side meant that we didn’t necessarily have an overseas fast bowler, playing for us consistently. So, it will take a little bit of pressure off me, but I also know that I’m going to have very specific roles when I bowl, and I’m going to have to mix-n-match with the quality of bowlers that we have.
Are you disappointed that Jaipur will not be hosting matches this time?
It is extremely disappointing that we are not playing games there. Jaipur to me, feels like my second home. For me personally, I have got incredible memories playing in Jaipur. The fans and the crowds in Jaipur are so supportive for the Royals.
How important is Paddy Upton for the Royals, given the trouble the side had last year.
If it wasn’t for Paddy, we wouldn’t have turned it around like we did and as quickly as we did, over that week when there was a lot going on. Paddy’s just got this incredible ability to be able to know how to turn things into a positive and get everybody moving into the same direction.