Indian Premier League: Rajasthan Royals release Steve Smith but retain England trio for 2021

Steve Smith and Ben Stokes
Steve Smith (left) has been released by Rajasthan Royals but England's Ben Stokes will remain with the franchise

Australia batsman Steve Smith has been released by Rajasthan Royals for the 2021 Indian Premier League, while England stars Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler are retained.

India batsman Sanju Samson will take over from Smith as Royals captain.

All eight IPL franchises have released their list of retained players before the auction in mid-February.

The tournament is expected to be held between April and June but a location has not yet been confirmed.

Mumbai Indians won the competition - held in the United Arab Emirates because of the Covid-19 pandemic - for a record fifth time last year.

Smith makes way but England trio stay

Smith joined the Royals in 2014, missed the 2018 season because of his ban for ball-tampering and led the side for the latter part of the 2019 season and 2020.

The 31-year-old's release comes after the Royals endured a disappointing season last year, finishing bottom in the group stages.

Seamer Archer was named Most Valuable Player, however, taking 20 wickets in his 14 matches at an economy rate of 6.55, while wicketkeeper-batsman Buttler scored 328 runs, including two half-centuries.

Stokes missed the start of the competition because he was on compassionate leave, but impressed with an outstanding 104 not out - the team's only century of the tournament - in a win over Mumbai.

However, England all-rounder Tom Curran has been released from the Royals squad.

Finch, Morris & Moeen released, Morgan retained

Royal Challengers Bangalore - who finished fourth last year - have also had a clearout, offloading Australia's Twenty20 captain Aaron Finch, South Africa seamer Chris Morris, India all-rounder Shivam Dube and England's Moeen Ali.

Elsewhere, England's Tom Banton (Kolkata Knight Riders) and Jason Roy (Delhi Capitals) have also been released.

Kings XI Punjab failed to make the play-offs in 2020 and have released big-hitting Australia batsman Glenn Maxwell.

World Cup winning-captain Eoin Morgan keeps his place at Kolkata Knight Riders, while fellow England players Chris Jordan (Kings XI Punjab), Jonny Bairstow (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Sam Curran (Chennai Super Kings) and Chris Woakes (Delhi Capitals) have also been retained.

All released players will now be eligible to sign for other franchises in the auction.

A full list of the released and retained players can be found on the IPL websiteexternal-link.

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