IPL news December 7, 2010

Rajasthan retain Warne and Watson

Rajasthan Royals have retained their captain Shane Warne and Australian allrounder Shane Watson ahead of the 2011 season of the IPL, a top franchise official has said. He also said they were in negotiations with a couple of Indian players ahead of the December 8 deadline for teams to nominate players they wish to keep from going into the auction. Each franchise is allowed to retain up to four players, of which no more than three can be Indian.

"We are extremely happy to have signed on Shane Warne and Shane Watson," Raghu Iyer, the Rajasthan spokesman, told ESPNcricinfo. "Both of them have been an important part of the Royals. Watson was the Player of the Tournament in the first season and Warne's leadership skills are what everybody talks about."

Rajasthan will lose $1.8 million per year from the auction pool for the first player retained and $1.3 million per year for the second player.

Warne led Rajasthan to an unlikely title in 2008, the IPL's first season. He was the league's second highest wicket-taker, with 19 wickets at an average of 21.26, while Watson scored 472 runs at an average of 47.20 and a strike-rate of 151.76, and also took 17 wickets at an average of 22.52. Both players had expressed their disappointment after Rajasthan were expelled from the IPL on October 10 by the BCCI.

The franchise responded to its termination by taking the BCCI to court, and the case went to arbitration. Last week the arbitrator, justice BN Srikrishna, issued a stay on the franchise's expulsion. He also restored all of Rajasthan's rights under the franchise agreement, including the right to take part in the player auction. While the board appealed against Srikrishna's ruling to the Bombay High Court, legal opinion suggested it will be difficult to overturn his order.

Tuesday's development would also appear to underline Srikrishna's assertion that there was "no merit" in the BCCI's counsel's contention that, even if Rajasthan was allowed to participate in the auction, there was no guarantee the players they picked would be willing to enter into contracts with it.

The original deadline for player nominations was December 6 but the Bombay High Court ruled that the BCCI should extend it to December 8 after Kings XI Punjab, the other terminated franchise, accused the board of deliberately delaying the arbitration hearings over their expulsion so the original deadline could expire. The retained players must have been part of the franchise's registered squads for the 2010 season.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo