Stokes, Buttler, Archer retained by Rajasthan Royals in IPL

Indian Premier League

England stars Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer have all been retained by Rajasthan Royals for next year’s Indian Premier League, where they will be captained by Australia’s Steve Smith.

The World Cup-winning trio, each of whom played a key role in the dramatic final at Lord’s, have had their contracts renewed by the franchise for a third season ahead of the next player draft on December 19.

Smith, whose relentless run-scoring helped Australia retain the Ashes over the summer, has been confirmed as skipper having taken over from Ajinkya Rahane during the last campaign.

Archer, whose experiences in the tournament helped prepare him for his stunning introduction to international cricket, said: “I have loved my time in the IPL, so it is a great feeling to know I’ll be back next year playing for the Royals.

“After the summer we’ve had as an England team it will be great to continue playing with the likes of Stokesy and Jos and I hope the fans back home in England will get behind us and support the Royals.

“It is going to be a huge IPL for us, a great chance to play T20 cricket of the highest level and test ourselves against the best in the world ahead of the T20 World Cup.”

Archer memorably floored Smith with a 92mph bouncer during this year’s Lord’s Test, concussing the batsmen and forcing him to miss the next match, and the Australian is looking forward to sharing a dressing room with his Ashes rivals once again.

“After a summer of some of the toughest cricket I can remember against the England boys in the World Cup and the Ashes I’m looking forward to having three of them on my team this time around,” he said.

“Everyone knows that Ben, Jos and Jofra are three of the finest cricketers in the world so it is going to be a fantastic tournament teaming up with them.”

Liam Livingstone, who played for the Royals, in 2019 has not been retained and says he has opted to focus on his red-ball cricket with Lancashire.

READ: Stokes not interested in ‘burden’ of England Test captaincy

Elsewhere Jonny Bairstow will stay with Sunrisers Hyderabad after establishing a formidable opening partnership with Australia’s David Warner last year, but Chennai Super Kings have announced both Sam Billings and David Willey have been released.

Moeen Ali remains on the books at Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sam Curran has been let go by Kings XI Punjab, while there was mixed news from Kolkata Knight Riders, who kept Harry Gurney while releasing Joe Denly.