Who will succeed Shane Warne as Rajasthan captain?
It is going to be a huge void to fill.
It is going to be a huge responsibility to undertake.
And it is going to be a great new challenge as well.
Shane Warne, as captain and coach, not only led the unfancied Rajasthan Royals to an unexpected triumph in the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) but also ensured they punched above their weight in the ubsequent editions.
With the Australian announcing his retirement, the hunt for the next Rajasthan captain has begun.
"We are very lucky. There are a lot of options," said Warne, when asked about who he expects to be his successor.
"Rahul Dravid has captained India and Watson has just been the vice-captain for Australia," he elaborated, adding, "And Johan Botha and Ross Taylor have been captains of their national teams in certain forms of the game."
here are a few candidates in the fray, for sure. But the appointment needs to be done after deliberation and foresight.
Warne's success -- achieved with modest resources -- means his successor will be under pressure to deliver, with the burden of expectations continuously weighing him down. The Australian albeit believes the onus is on the franchise.
"The owners have to decide whether they want to first appoint a full-time coach and then a new captain, or the captain wants to be the coach himself, as I was," explained Warne, adding, "And that will dictate who the person is eventually.
"The good thing is all four of them could do it." The Australian offered a suggestion on the matter.
"If the owners want a strong coach, which I think is necessary for a tournament like the IPL, they can go for a quite captain," he said, adding, "And if they go for a quite coach, they have to appoint a vocal captain."
While there is some time before the decision to this end is taken, let's have a look at the contenders.
Image: Shane Warne
Captain Dravid will need a vocal coach
Experience, fortitude and loads of patience are qualities that briefly sum up what Dravid brings to the table.
While his stint as captain of Team India was a mixed bag, with India's first Test series wins in West Indies (2006) since 1971 and in England (2007) since 1986 being the highs, and an opening round exit in the 2007 ICC World Cup probably being his biggest low.
"Rahul Dravid has been a wonderful captain for India," explained Warne, adding, "And he plays very well at the top of the order for Rajasthan."
The second part of the Australian's assessment is corroborated by statistics.
Since he joined from Royal Challengers Bangalore, Dravid has been Rajasthan's best batsman (read top-scorer), notching 343 runs in 12 matches (@ 31.18) with an impressive strike rate of 109.
However, there can be question marks over his aggression (or lack of it), a trait vital in the game's shortest format.
Should Dravid be appointed captain, then the owners have to take into consideration Warne's second suggestion and appoint a vocal coach.
Image: Rahul Dravid
Is Shane Watson ready to captain a side?
The Australian all-rounder is arguably Rajasthan Royals' most valuable player.
Having joined his team late on account of duty for country, Watson played a few matches, but managed 330 runs in 11 matches (@ 33.00) with a strike rate of 130; he also took six wickets.
He saved his best for the last though three wickets and an unbeaten 89 that helped Rajasthan thrash Mumbai Indians by 10 wickets in what was Shane Warne's last IPL outing. No wonder he got brownie points from his compatriot for his commitment and contribution.
'I am very proud of Watson, the way he has conducted himself around the group, his work ethic, even when he was not playing the way he would have liked,' explained Warne, adding, 'I think when he is on song he is one of the best batsman in the world.'
A quality player he is, without doubt. However, a great player doesn't necessarily make a great captain.
Should Watson be given the responsibility, it will be interesting to see if he is up to the task.
Image: Shane Watson
Johan Botha is a good bet
The 29-year-old South African exceeded all expectations in this edition.
Besides taking seven wickets, Botha, on many occasions, promoted up the order at No.3, delivered with the bat as well, scoring 230 runs in nine innings (@ 46.00) and had a strike rate of 116.
While his 47-ball 67 not out against Deccan Chargers in Hyderabad ensured Rajasthan a comfortable win, it was an all-round effort that stood out.
Having taken three for six to help his side dismiss the then table-toppers Mumbai Indians for a paltry 94, Botha scored a 39-ball 45 to ensure they won by seven wickets.
Botha has captained the South African national team in the shorter format with considerable success and is a good bet.
Image: Johan Botha
Taylor has an outside chance
The biggest disappointment as far as the Rajasthan Royals is concerned, Taylor managed only 181 runs in 11 innings (@ 36.20) in this edition.
There were flashes of brilliance for sure, but nothing that had made him a success at his former franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The 28-year-old New Zealander has the pedigree though and can win matches on his own on a given day.
Besides, he has captained New Zealand well in the limited opportunities he has had.
However, to put it bluntly, it seems highly unlikely he will get the vote over the three names mentioned earlier.
Image: Ross Taylor