Last week it was learned that Stokes might miss the first part of the tournament due to personal reasons. They're the guys that either fail or succeed at the end there, and there's a lot more failures than successes within that role. Clearly it will be a bonus if he does arrive, but thoughts are with him right now.

He can turn games, as we saw during the Australia series.

It's your first big IPL assignment, albeit in very unusual circumstances. “First and foremost, thoughts with the Stokes family.

There's doubt about Ben Stokes' involvement in this year's IPL. How much of a lift will it give the squad to be able to take the field with potentially three of the key architects [Stokes, Buttler, and Archer] of England's World Cup victory last year? But also from a tactical space it will be great to bounce some ideas off him. Can you finish in the top-four this year? We tried to look at the positives with the delay. At that moment, there will be 14 players who aren't involved and 11 who are. He missed two Australia ODIs with concussion.

ESPNcricinfo caught up with him to discuss the challenges of franchise cricket in the Covid-19 era and the advantage of having multiple World Cup winners in the Royals squad. We've added some depth in terms of our left-hand batting, in particular in [Anuj] Rawat and [Yashashvi] Jaiswal among the home-grown players, so we think we've got some options there. He can have such an impact. Talking Points - Why didn't Jofra Archer bowl the 19th over? It’s one hell of a challenge this year. But there’s been a lot of upsets in other sports during lockdown, probably because of those moving parts. But first and foremost, our thoughts are with him and his family during this difficult time. All we can do is prepare properly. He’s got some great support around him. He's really fitted into our environment well. What do you make of your leadership group? They all bring something different too so to have that many leaders around will be great. Any time you sit back and reflect on a tournament, it’s about improvement. We’ve got three leg-spinners and a couple of off-spinners, so within that space he will be absolutely fantastic.
The other big international that RR have is Australia’s Steven Smith and he too was injured during the ongoing limited overs series in England. He's been at the top of his game against Australia. Rajasthan has positioned itself as the 'English' IPL franchise in recent seasons. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. It's a little bit of the unknown stepping up from that U-19 level into the IPL, but so far so good with those two young bowlers, Tyagi and Aakash.

For more stories like this, check our sport page. But we've got Sanju [Samson], who thinks differently to Smudge, who thinks differently to [Robin] Uthappa. He might have been touch-and-go for the original tournament, but potentially Covid gave him a little bit of extra time. It’s rare to get that kind of input. As a left-hander, he could maybe go at the top, or in the middle against spin, because last year we had that run of right-handers which was very easy for the opposition to prepare against and play against. But I don't want to second-guess what will happen with him just yet. Looking forward to being back & helping the off field team push the royals brand – plus watching the game from the stands and being on hand to offer any advice if required !!! Andrew McDonald, Rajasthan's head coach, with Zubin Bharucha, head of cricket Rajasthan Royals. The IPL has an extra edge to it for sure. There's a predominance of right-arm seam in your attack, albeit boasting a range of different styles. You go into each auction and you look at the left-arm quicks, there's not many out there so, yeah, it's supply and demand really. Jos Buttler is another world-class player and has been in great form this summer…. With the likes of Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes also in your squad, are you confident you’ve got the right man? That benefit of having played recently and being match-hardened is a real positive. And that includes the coaching staff too. Steve Smith is clearly the captain, but it's great to have other guys in supporting roles, with the ability to think on their feet when things don't go to plan. Tactically and physically, most coaches have that covered, but the big challenge is going to be keeping the group connected.

Hopefully they can share those experiences, because that's the great thing about the IPL. You don’t sit there and think “we just want to do this or that”, you want to win every competition you enter. Before the start of the inaugural IPL season, many considered the Royals as possibly the weakest team in the IPL, giving them little chance of competing well in the tournament. And what about David Miller? If we can manage that well, it might give us a slight advantage. We're excited if he does get exposure in this tournament; we feel like we've got one for the future there, no doubt., Royals coach opens up on availability of star all-rounder Ben Stokes,, Dhawan hits first T20 century as Capitals snatch win from CSK,, IPL 2020 - CSK Vs DC, 2nd innings: Live Updates: Score between 16 Over to Over 20,, IPL 2020 - CSK Vs DC, 2nd innings: Live Updates: Score after 15 overs,, IPL 2020 - CSK Vs DC, 2nd innings: Live Updates: Score after 10 overs, IPL 2020: Rajasthan Royals coach opens up on availability of star all-rounder Ben Stokes.

The players were also able to connect so we feel that in a funny way we’re probably better prepared than we may have been had we assembled in March.

He lights it up, doesn't he? For me, it’s about managing the squad off the field. That type of player just lights up the game.

We feel as though that we've got some left-handed options that can disrupt the tactics of the opposition, so it's really about where we place them, and at what time. Copyright © HT Media Limited All rights reserved. That's one challenge for us.

It’s safe to say preparation hasn’t been ideal – you’re still waiting for some of your squad to arrive, while you’re going to have to get used to living and training in bio-secure bubbles…. You're going to have other moving parts throughout the tournament.

We’re lucky to have him on board. The focus isn’t on cricket. Andrew McDonald: Great confidence having Stokes, Archer and Buttler in Rajasthan Royals (1:46), Andrew McDonald: IPL 2020 is going to be all about managing the individual. We’ve got limited practice games but we feel as though we’re doing the best we can. Are you happy with the variety you can bring to your best XI? It’s exciting. Thank you for subscribing to our daily newsletter. He's got a proven ability to do just that. Lucknow, Patna, That’s our challenge, to make sure our players are in a safe and happy place, to make sure they’ve got time away from the game. Ahead of the 2020 Indian Premier League, we spoke to Rajasthan Royals coach and former Australia international Andrew McDonald about the tournament, England stars Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler… And his fielding is second to none. And there's Jos, a fantastic player who's had a fantastic summer for England, and there's no surprises in him performing at the level that he does. We can’t wait for that last contingent of players to arrive. The way we set up at the auction, we feel we can structure our side up to three or four different ways. Jaipur, As you said, we weren’t far off last year. He’s a fantastic player and can take games away from the opponent. That’s obviously a crucial part of the game, but he does have the flexibility to move up or down which can be beneficial. He's exciting; you never know what you're going get with great fast bowlers and although he's got a long way to go to be in that sort of conversation, he's stepping his way towards that, isn't he? It gives you great confidence that their skill-sets held up under such extreme pressure. Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Bhopal He's definitely one of the most devastating finishers in the game, but it's a really thankless task too. Hopefully that goes well and we can get cracking next week.

I think all the boys are really excited to get into it after such a long lay-off. It’s a difficult scenario, so we’re giving him as much time as he needs, and connecting with him as best we can. , Chandigarh , Dehradun,

“Steve Smith is a bit more clear-cut, I think. Potentially, but we've got some good complementary skill sets in Varun [Aaron] and [Ankit] Rajpoot, who we traded for. If you think back to the first tournament in 2008, the merging of all those different nations and the ideas that were shared, helped to accelerate the game. There seem to be plenty of candidates to lead the side, particularly if Smith or Buttler are absent. How helpful will it be to have a range of overseas players who have got meaningful match practice under their belts? Not all players have that ability but he will mainly be opening. Obviously, there's Jofra [Archer] - there's not two of him, there aren't many similarities between him and other bowlers in the world. Managing those guys to keep them ready and prepared is a great challenge in any tournament, but more so in this one, to my mind. So yeah, we're not sure where Stokesy's at right now, but once it has played out, then we can make our decisions from there. As always you need an element of luck so to say you can predict what’s going to happen is not rational but we believe we can genuinely compete.

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