The key to Rajasthan Royals' 2012 season will be how they handle the transition at the head of the team. Shane Warne, their inspirational captain and face of the franchise, retired. The man who succeeded Warne is a cricket icon of equal standing but of different temperament. Warne was loud, aggressive and loved being the centre of attention. Rahul Dravid is quiet, restrained and simply goes about his business.
What the two have in common though is the ability to lead by example and a deep knowledge of the game. Now that Dravid has retired from international cricket the IPL is his sole cricketing focus, and if anyone can manage the change in culture with as few hiccups as possible, it will be him.
Last season was a mixed bag for the Royals, who started strongly and were in contention for a place in the playoffs before fading towards the end. A controversy over the pitch at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, which resulted in the disciplining of Warne, was a distraction, but the side's slide exposed the lack of depth in their batting. To the Royals' credit, they have gone some way to address that weakness with the additions of Brad Hodge, Owais Shah and Dinesh Chandimal, who can double up as wicketkeeper and might prove to be the steal of the 2012 player auction.