Following a disastrous IPL, both as a leader and a batsman, Rajasthan Royals are reportedly mulling over the release of Steve Smith back to the Auction pool ahead of the 2021 IPL. In the 2020 edition, Smith scored 311 runs in 14 games, at an average of 25.91 as the Royals finished last on the table.
Midway through the 2020 edition of the IPL, there were reports that Rajasthan Royals would be aiming to replace their skipper from Steve Smith to Jos Buttler. While that didn’t materialize during the mid-season, before the IPL Auction for the 2021 season, ESPNCricinfo has reported that the Royals are considering to release Steve Smith before the 2021 season. Smith, who has been part of the franchise since 2014 before their ban has been a key member of the squad before the 2020 season.
In addition to that, the Australian’s ability to not act up quickly as a skipper resulted in multiple wins being withered away from the Royals. Some of his costly mistakes include handing the ball to Jaydev Unadkat against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, where AB de Villiers made light work of his bowling while demoting Sanju Samson lower down the order. On top of that, his batting had seen a visible low, with just 311 runs in 14 games, at an average of 25.91, which has forced Royals into a new mindset.
Smith was the only player that the franchise retained prior to their comeback season, for INR 12.5 crore and certainly ahead of the 2021 Auction, looks like the first player to get the boot out of the system.
While it was Ajinkya Rahane who led the team to the playoffs in 2018, the Royals management handed over the captaincy to Smith after a brief meltdown in their playing style. However, now with Rahane gone and Smith faltering, the Royals have earmarked Sanju Samson as a potential captain for the future. Another name that has certainly popped up on the list, Jos Buttler, who has been part of the franchise for some time now.
However, with the English pair’s availability being a key issue, the franchise are still unclear over whether they would want to hand over the leadership to either Stokes or Buttler, which makes Samson the clear front-runner for the top job. Samson is currently leading the Kerala side in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.