~ The former Sri Lankan captain will be taking charge of his second season at the Royals ~
Mumbai, 17 March 2022: Royals Sports Group-owned franchise Rajasthan Royals have had a couple of below-par seasons in the Indian Premier League, but with a new-look and balanced squad, the team from Rajasthan has given itself a strong base to build on, in the next couple of months. The Royals’ Director of Cricket and Head Coach, Kumar Sangakkara, is one of the key catalysts in this off-field transformation of the franchise and is hoping for an exciting season.
“We know we had quite a bit of work to do in the off-season with regards to our team. I think we managed to identify the key areas which needed our attention and having had a proper process when it comes to selecting players at the auction, we managed to kind of hit the markers that we set for ourselves. I think the franchise has done an amazing job to put this exciting and strong squad together,” said the Sri Lankan legend.
Commenting on the make-up of his squad, Sangakkara added, “We’ve got the two best spinners in the IPL in terms of off-spin and leg-spin in Chahal and Ashwin. We have Boult, Prasidh, Saini, Coulter-Nile, McCoy, which makes up for a very exciting pace unit supported by of course the retentions of Yashasvi, Samson and Buttler. We have secured depth in every department, with Neesham, Mitchell and van der Dussen being exciting cricketers.”
“We’ve got some really exciting and young cricketers from India as well. The main thing is that we have a very competent side. We tried to get the core right and get the right players for the roles. But now, the main thing irrespective of what the squad is, is actual match performance on the field, and how we can give everyone the freedom to go out there and perform,” expressed Sangakkara.
Asked what the team learned from last season’s disappointing second part of the campaign, Kumar said, “I think there were a lot of different reasons for that, not just one or two. Whether it was player availability, split tournament, bigger break, and not the best of match performances in terms of batting or bowling. But that is all in the past now, and that's why the squad has changed. We are now focused on the upcoming few weeks.”
Explaining the additions of his compatriot Lasith Malinga and Paddy Upton to the Royals’ coaching staff, the former Sri Lankan captain said, “My job really is to add value to the franchise through myself or through people that I would recommend. It's first about what value that person brings and how constantly they can help us improve. It's pretty obvious for everyone to see the standards of both Lasith and Paddy. They’ve had stellar careers with their respective teams in their jobs and can prove to be vital elements in our quest for the title.”
“Lasith comes with a pedigree, being one of the greatest T20 bowlers, and having mentored a lot of the Indian young bowlers as well. While, everyone’s aware of the importance of mental conditioning and also having that cohesion between the unit, especially in the IPL and in a COVID situation. So, these were pretty obvious decisions for us to make and we are delighted to have them and hope to see their work reflect into performances on the field,” added the 44-year-old.
Speaking of what objectives he’s set for the team this season, Kumar responded, “Other than the obvious ambition of winning the trophy?”
He went on, “Objective is just to play good cricket - we have our own performance metrics that we’ll match each individual's and the team’s performance after each match. It's a case of ensuring that we're well prepared. The results will be results either way, but we've got to play some good competitive cricket, and really enjoy the game.”
Signing off with a mention
of his good friend and Rajasthan Royals’ legend, Shane Warne, the left-hander
said, “He's a great loss for the cricket world, a great loss for cricketers
around the world, because he was such an approachable guy, who had great
knowledge. He was a very good friend, and I really enjoyed my time with him,
the conversations we used to have. I think everyone will miss him.”