MUMBAI: You just can’t keep Shane Warne away from the Rajasthan Royals. In UAE as the team’s brand ambassador and mentor in IPL-2020, the Aussie leg spin legend seems to be relishing the Royals’ initial surge (at the time of writing this) to the top of the table. Soon after he finished his quarantine period and joined his team in the dugout on Wednesday night, Warne took out time for an interview with TOI, as he spoke about his impressive-looking team’s chances in the desert this time. Excerpts…
IPL 2020: SCHEDULE | POINTS TABLE
You must have enjoyed watching Rahul Tewatia‘s unexpected match-winning knock for the Royals on Sunday night…
It was very courageous of Tewatia to be out there, giving his best. His never say die attitude, self-belief and confidence Tewatia had out there was wonderful to see. It just goes to show that you’re never really out of it and it was perfectly embodied by the Royals the other night. Things will get tough out there at some point, but the game of cricket is all about fighting through to the end and keeping the belief going. It was as great a display of sporting turnarounds that I’ve seen for an innings…absolutely marvelous.
You said that Sanju Samson should play for India in all the three formats soon. What do you like about him?
I‘ve been saying it for a long time now that Sanju should be playing all forms of the game for India. He is such a quality player. He showed that class again in the first two games and I hope he has a consistent tournament this year. If that happens, I think you’ll see him representing India in all forms of the game. He’s just such a talented player. I’ve seen a lot of talented cricketers in my time but watching Samson bat…in the nets being around him…speaking to him over the years and now watching him evolve, I mean he is something else.

The Royals have looked impressive in IPL-2020 so far…
Yeah, you get the feeling that it’s the Royals year this year. I think the squad looks great, some great young talent, some experienced players, good variety in the bowling attack, power hitters and manipulators of the ball. Some good players of spin and pace, good combination of left and right-handers. So, I think the squad is there. It’s about them being able to deliver. So, if we can deliver our skills, then I feel it could be the Royals’ year this year in 2020.
What do you make of Shreyas Gopal and Tewatia, the two leggies in RR team?
They’re both fantastic. I mean it wasn’t easy with the dew on the ball in a small ground in Sharjah. I thought both of them bowled into the pitch nicely. I really liked what I saw of them and I’m looking forward to working with Tewatia and Gopal again. We’re lucky to have quality spinners in our team. They’re all different but all very effective. They are outstanding. Gopal’s going to go on to be the spinner of the tournament this year. He was fantastic last year and I think he’ll be great this year too.

Last week saw the sudden demise of your compatriot Dean Jones in Mumbai…
Jones was a friend of mine for over thirty years. He was my first roommate before my first Test. He became a good friend and his death is just so, so, so sad to hear. He was an innovator. He was ahead of his time, a maverick. If only he knew how much he inspired so many people to play the game and be like him. I wish that he had known that before he passed away. I’m thinking of (his wife) Jane and his two daughters in these tough times.
On a happier note, what was your reaction when the BCCI announced that the BCCI was finally organizing the IPL?
It was of just pure joy. I absolutely love the IPL. I love how it engages everyone around the world. It’s such a huge tournament to be involved in and to be a part of Rajasthan Royals is exciting. A different role for me again this year as mentor and ambassador, so I’m looking forward to both those roles. But yeah, I was super excited once the announcement came through that the IPL will be going ahead.
How did you kill your time in the quarantine period?
I’ve unpacked all my suitcases and then repacked them again. I’ve gone through all my notes, just about finished my work and a whole lot of emailing. I have done some calls for the Royals and I just watched some entourage again for the third time.
Everyone wants to know if Ben Stokes, struck by a personal tragedy, would be available for RR in IPL-2020. Have you been in touch with him, and can you tell us if and when he would join RR here?
Hopefully, Stokes will play a part this year. He’s a big loss and our thoughts are with him. You add Stokes to the team that played the other night and it looks a very, very good side.

Is Jofra Archer the best fast bowler in the competition?
Look, Jofra’s a superstar. He brings the X-factor to the table, the fear factor for the opposition. They would all spend so much time talking about Archer as in do we see him off or do we try to score off him? How do we play him. He’s a weapon and can change the course of the game in an over or two. The last four or five overs are so important for the batting team and when you’ve got Archer bowling a couple of overs at the end it’s very difficult. So, some of the opposition teams might have to go a little bit earlier rather than wait to the end because they’ve got to face Archer. Tactically, that’s an advantage against certain opposition because we’ve got Archer in our team.
Since the beginning of the IPL, when RR clinched the title in the first edition, you’ve been associated with only the Royals. Can you describe this relationship?
I feel like I’ve got a spiritual connection with the Royals. Back in 2008, it was just such a wonderful time and every now and then you connect and get involved with something that is super special and is magic. The squad we had in 2008 produced some magic and lifetime friendships. I love the Royals and have always been a Royal. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be back working with them in this capacity and I hope it continues. I hope there’s always a role for me here because I’m passionate and just love them very, very much.
Have you had the chance to follow Yashasvi Jaiswal, who is supposed to be the one of the most talented young batsmen around in Indian cricket?
Yeah, I’ve followed his progress. Jaiswal’s is an amazing story. He’s such a good young player.
As usual, Smith has been the rock in the middle-order…
I think Smith brings a lot to the table. His overall experience, he’s obviously a phenomenal batsman and is a good leader of men. He’s very good tactically and I think he’ll get the best out of his squad and give them confidence and I’m looking forward to watching him in action. I’ve watched him captain different sides over the years. He’s done a good job and hopefully he can do a great job for the Royals.
The Royals have a new coach in (former Australian all-rounder) Andrew McDonald…
Andrew McDonald is very well-respected around the cricket family and the world for what he brings to the table. He’s an excellent man-manager. I think he gets a lot out of the team and he has a pretty relaxed environment and lets people be themselves. But if a player needs a kick up the backside, he’s more than comfortable in giving that too. So, I think he’s got a nice balance and Smith, we know what a wonderful captain and cricketer he is. So, it’s a good combination and hopefully, off the field I can help balance that and help them in some way shape or form that helps the Royals on the field.



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