Upton counts on Watson

Shane Watson has waded through muddy waters in the last one month. It must have been tough to be named one of the fall guys in ‘homeworkgate’ that made him rethink his playing career.

Loss of personal form and then leading Australia in the last Test of the disastrous India tour also must have left a deep mark on his psyche. But cometh the Indian Premier League and his presence for the full season gave a big boost to Rajasthan Royals.

A match- winner in his own right, Watson was available only towards the end of the IPL last year. It was one of the main reasons the Royals’ performance suffered in the competition.

New head coach Paddy Upton said with Watson playing for the full season, the team’s strategy will revolve around him.

“Shane Watson is a very important player for Rajasthan Royals. He has the ability to change the match at any point of time. Surely, his presence will motivate the team. Last year, he was available for only a few matches. Now his presence for the full season will add to our strength as we strategise for each match,” Upton told Mail Today. Right from the first season when the Royals completed a fairytale win, Watson has been the one constant factor in the franchise.

Upton agrees that his presence would be a positive influence in the dressing room. “ He ( Watson) knows the team inside out. He is also an inspiration for youngsters,” he said.

Presence of an old hand will surely give Upton more confidence as he takes up the challenging job of turning around Royals’ fortunes. The South African was part of India’s coaching staff during Gary Kirsten’s tenure and has seen the heady days of Indian cricket leading up to the World Cup triumph.

It was his association with Rahul Dravid that brought him to the Royals.

“He (Dravid) is a very humble, straightforward guy and a perfect mentor for the team. We know each other since my stint with Indian team. We know what we want from each other. Rahul understands that we don’t need to convince each other, we just need to listen to each other. Till now we have had 100 hours of conversation on the team and each player,” said Upton.

“We have a balanced team and have back- ups in every department. The local talent is very impressive. They have the skills and zeal to perform,” he added.

Royals finished seventh last season with seven wins in 16 matches. The availability of key players like Sreesanth, who was injured last year, apart from Watson, will bolster the team. “ In 2012, Rajasthan Royals started well. But a few key players such as Sreesanth and Watson were not available, which cost the team in crucial matches. Then Kevon Cooper and Shaun Tait were injured, which can happen in sport,” he said.

“IPL is a very tough competition, The level is so high that there is no place of any weakness.”

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