Wicketkeeper-batter Sanju Samson is the first player Rajasthan Royals have retained for IPL 2022. ESPNcricinfo has learned that Samson will also retain his captaincy, having captained Royals in IPL 2021. He agreed to an INR 14 crore per season contract with the franchise this week.
Samson, it is learned, was first on the list of players Royals wanted to retain before the IPL deadline closes on November 30 for the existing eight franchises. The frontrunners for the remaining three slots (in no particular order) include at least three England players – wicketkeeper-batter Jos Buttler, fast bowler Jofra Archer and allrounder Liam Livingstone – and uncapped Indian batter Yashasvi Jaiswal.
As per the retention slabs set by the IPL, if a team retains four players then INR 42 crore gets deducted from the auction purse, which has been enhanced to INR 90 crore this time. Accordingly, Royals will go into the auction with INR 48 crore. Also, while Samson will get paid INR 14 crore, as per the IPL rules, INR 16 crore will be deducted for the first of the four players retained from the auction purse.
While the Royals finished seventh in the 2021 IPL, one place better than the previous edition, Samson stood out as the best batter for the team. This season Samson even hit a century as he finished sixth overall on the run chart with 484 runs in 14 innings at a strike rate of 136.72.
Samson had been bought by Royals in the 2018 auction for INR 8 crore. At the same auction, Royals paid big money to scoop up Stokes (INR 12.5 crore) and Archer (INR 7.2 crore). Buttler was paid INR 4.4 crore while Jaiswal was bought for INR 2.4 crore in 2020. All three players have made an impact individually, with Archer notably winning the Player of the Tournament award in 2020 IPL, which was played in the UAE.
However, Archer was forced to sit out of the 2021 IPL after undergoing surgery in the summer. It is the fast bowler’s long-term fitness that is understood to be the point of debate among the Royals management which is still keen to retain Archer. As far as Buttler is concerned, Royals are optimistic the senior England player will sign the retention contract soon.
As for Stokes, who returned to action recently having taken a break during the English summer, including missing out on the T20 World Cup, Royals’ position remains unclear. The key question would be whether they would have enough money to offer him. Another overseas player Royals are considering retaining, in case Archer retention doesn’t go ahead, is Livingstone, who had a below-par season in 2021.
As per the IPL rules, each team is allowed to retain up to two overseas players. It is understood that the Royals are expected to seal the final three retentions by November 28.
Sanju SamsonJos ButtlerJofra ArcherLiam LivingstoneYashasvi JaiswalRajasthan RoyalsIPL
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo