By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Glenn Maxwell’s million dollar paycheque was the talk of the town as Mumbai Indians snapped him up at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 auction. It is only at the auction that youngsters such as Maxwell find themselves at a higher pedestal when pitted against established names such as Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke. There were many more surprises: Kane Richardson, Sachithra Senanayake, Chris Morris, Nathan Coulter-Nile and James Faulkner also bagged humongous paycheques.
It is a significant jump for Maxwell, who played for the Delhi Daredevils last year. He was an unknown quantity then, but has grown in reputation since then. In the last 12 months, he has gone on to play for Australia after an impressive performance in T20 cricket in England. His game is ideally suited for T20 cricket as he can give it a whack the ball around, bowl useful off-spinners and can field very well. Recently, he opened the batting in a One-Day International (ODI) and showed that he can be a floater in the order. As of now, his international record isn’t very impressive, but he does have the ability to put in those impact performances.
Chris Morris was a big surprise as not many had heard of him in the lead-up to the auction. Some might remember seeing him turning up for the Lions during the Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2012. A look at his T20 record might justify why Chennai Super Kings paid $625,000 for him. His strike rate is 175.29 and he averages 24.83 with the bat. Also, his economy rate with the ball is a fantastic 6.85 and his average reads an impressive 16.68. Those numbers convinced the South African selectors and they handed him an international debut in a T20 against New Zealand in December.
Kolkata Knight Riders have the mystery element in Sunil Narine and wanted someone to back him up. They failed to secure the services of Ajantha Mendis and then went on to pursue his compatriot Sachithra Senanayake. The off-spinner has played a few internationals for Sri Lanka and hasn’t had a huge impact. However, his biggest moment against South Africa last year when he hit a six to win an ODI when Sri Lanka needed five runs off two balls. His T20 record with the ball makes a fantastic reading: 46 wickets in 33 matches at an average of 15.47 and an economy rate of 6.03.
Kane Richardson was easily the biggest surprise as Pune Warriors India picked him up for $700,000. The 21-year old is promising, but doesn’t have a very good record in T20 cricket, but had a good Big Bash League (BBL). His record in List A makes a more compelling reading. In the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka, he played for Australia in a solitary ODI at Adelaide. One of the catches he took during the BBL became the talk of the town and that shows his athleticism.
This isn’t James Faulkner’s first stint in the IPL as he represented Kings XI Punjab last year and was also a part of the Pune Warriors in 2011. However, his price has more than doubled this time around. Punjab bought him for $190,000, but Rajasthan Royals paid $400,000.He has found his way into the Australian setup this year and is a handy all-rounder. Perhaps he is more of a bowler, but he can contribute with crucial runs down the order. In the most recent ODI against the West Indies, he scored 39 after an early collapse to help George Bailey rescue Australia.
Mumbai Indians didn’t relent when they were bidding for Nathan Coulter-Nile. He will get a sum of $450,000. It is his bowling that has won him that amount and his record shows he can bat a bit. In the Australian domestic competition, he plays for Western Australia and the Perth Scorchers in the BBL. Australian selectors have kept an eye on him as he has played for Australia under-19 and Australia A.
Rajiv Shukla, the IPL commissioner stated that this wasn’t the full-fledged auction and that the teams were only filling slots. As one of the analysts pointed out, it looks as if the franchises are trying to invest in talent and hoping that it pays in the long run. For these six players, this is a crucial season and they would want to impress and perhaps get a raise next year. Will these six men live up to their billing? The answers are only a few months away.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)