Ish Sodhi, the New Zealand legspinner, is set to take on a new role for Rajasthan Royals. After being released earlier this year following a two-year stint, the 27-year old will rejoin as spin consultant and operations executive.
"Ish was very keen with the managerial side of things, and was particularly interested in how things work behind the scenes, so we thought while we bring him on board in an operational capacity, he can also double-up on the coaching front by assisting our spin coach Sairaj Bahutule," a Royals official told ESPNcricinfo.
An active cricketer seeking to broaden his horizons into the business operations of a franchise, Sodhi could be a pathbreaker of sorts. But such an association isn't entirely new for the Royals, who earlier had Pravin Tambe in their roster.
The Mumbai legspinner was once a a venue manager at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. He also served as liaison officer for Deccan Chargers at the same venue in 2010. In 2013, he was part of the Royals squad despite not having played a single game of top-flight cricket.
In 2020, at 48, Tambe will be the oldest player in the competition following a bid at his base price (INR 20 lakhs) from Kolkata Knight Riders, while Sodhi, nearly two decades younger, works in the backroom. According to the Royals, Sodhi's rapport with their young spinners - Shreyas Gopal, Riyan Parag - played a hand in him being signed in a dual capacity. This season, he'll also get to work with 20-year old legspinner Mayank Markande, who has been traded in after two years with Mumbai Indians.
"It is a fascinating opportunity for me to involved with the coaching staff at such a young age, while also supporting and learning about the operations of the business," Sodhi said in a statement. "I am looking forward to developing my coaching skills alongside Sairaj and learning from Jake Lush McCrum [chief operating officer] on business operations."
Sodhi picked up nine wickets in eight matches for the Royals at an economy of 6.69. While he isn't part of New Zealand's Test plans at the moment, he's still on their radar for limited-overs selection. In all, Sodhi has an impressive 161 wickets in 143 T20 matches, with a best of 6 for 11 for Adelaide Strikers against Sydney Thunder in BBL 2017-18.
"We are very happy to welcome back Ish to the Royals family in his new role," Royals' head of cricket Zubin Barucha said. "The induction of Ish in this dual role demonstrates the Royals' commitment to recognise and reward young talent to develop into masters in their field of work."