Australian spin legend Shane Warne has been reunited with the Rajasthan Royals, as the Indian Premier League club announced Tuesday he will mentor the side he once captained to victory.
Warne, who lead the Royals as they clinched the IPL cup in its inaugural edition in 2008, rejoins the franchise as they return to the lucrative Twenty20 league after a two-year ban for illegal betting.
The club hopes the 48-year-old leg-spinner will “recreate the old magic” he brought to the Royals as captain — and later coach — in the IPL’s first four seasons, it said in a statement.
“I am very happy and excited to be back with the Rajasthan Royals who I believe hold a very special place in my cricketing journey,” said Warne.
“I am overwhelmed by the love and affection showered on me by the franchise and fans of Rajasthan Royals.”
IPL teams are known to keep retired players as coaches and mentors to help motivate the young and senior members in their dug-out.
Warne took 56 wickets in his 52 games with the Royals, who were barred for two seasons along with Chennai Super Kings in 2015 over an illegal gambling scandal.
They have put together a strong squad ahead of their return for the 2018 edition, bagging top names including England all-rounder Ben Stokes in the player auction last month.
Stokes was secured for close to $2 million while Indian seamer Jaydev Unadkat was contracted by the Royals at $1.8 million.
They were two of the biggest buys in a two-day auction that witnessed almost $70 million splurged by the franchises.
“The guys have done a wonderful job at getting the squad together. So many talented Indian, international, senior and young players they always support,” said Warne.
“It really is a wonderful squad and I think it can achieve some special things in 2018.”
Warne, regarded as one of the greatest leg-spinners in the history of cricket, picked up 708 wickets in 145 Tests during his 15-year international career.
The IPL, the world’s most popular T20 domestic league, is slated to be held between April 7 and May 27. The tournament has been boosted by a new five year $2.5-billion media deal.