Brendon McCullum (Centre) is one of the marquee players in the IPL © Getty Images
Brendon McCullum (Centre) is one of the marquee players in the IPL © Getty Images


By Chetan Narula


Wellington: Feb 11, 2014 


Their excellent performance against a much higher-ranked India in the ongoing series has made New Zealand‘s cricketers hopeful of fetching lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) contracts and there is an air of anticipation in the Kiwi camp ahead of the players’ auction in far away Bangalore.


India are yet to win a game on this tour of New Zealand, after losing the five-match One-Day Internationals (ODI) series 4-0 and now trailing 1-0 in the two-Test series as well.


The limited-overs’ players from the visitors’ original squad have already returned home, and among those present here as part of the Test squad, not many big names are up for grabs.


Among the batsmen, only Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay and Wriddhiman Saha are up for auction. Barring Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, all the bowlers—Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami and Ishwar Pandey will be in the auction pool.


There is more buzz around the hosts though, with Corey Anderson leading the way, despite senior pros Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor (Rs. 2 crore base price each) also going under the hammer.


The all-rounder, who smashed the quickest ODI century against the West Indies in the preceding series, has set Rs one crore as his base-price.


“I have tried not thinking about it too much, ever since the Indian tour started. But it is something that will definitely get to you at some stage,” said Anderson, about the prospective auction.


“I am excited about it now. I have no idea what it is going to be like. Yet I can sense that this is a bit of circus as well as the cricket bit. And I am glad to be part of this circus,” he added.


Apart from the aforementioned names, others who could be of wholesome value to the franchises are as follows: Nathan McCullum (base price Rs. 1 crore), Martin Guptill (Rs. 0.5 crore), Luke Ronchi (Rs. 0.3 crore), Hamish Rutherford (Rs.0.5 crore), James Franklin (Rs. 0.5 crore), James Neesham (Rs.0.3 crore), Tim Southee (Rs. 0.5 crore), Jacob Oram 0.3 crore, Kyle Mills (Rs. 1 crore) and Hamish Bennett (Rs. 0.3 crore).


“It is always a bonus if you can both bat and bowl, particularly in the T20 format,” added Anderson.


“We will all be watching the auction, as it happens between the two Test matches. Maybe I will leave the room when my name comes up and have one of my team-mates text me whether I have been picked up or not.”


Three other names stand out—the ever-troubled Jesse Ryder (Rs. one crore), and two new young tear-away bowlers Adam Milne (Rs. 0.3 crore) and Matt Henry (Rs. 0.3 crore)—on the eve of this auction.
Ryder has previously been part of this tournament, yet on the eve of auctions, he has once again been embroiled in controversy and has been released from the Test squad. Whether it will impact his market value remains to be seen short stuff and both succeeded to an extent.


The former is recovering from a muscle-tear which ruled him out after the first ODI, while the latter has openly expressed his desire to play in the IPL.


If there is one prominent name missing from this list, it is that of Ludhiana-born leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, who ruled out taking part in this extravaganza, stating the ‘early stages’ of his career.


Even so, it isn’t only the players who are keenly involved with the IPL. The rich Kiwi flavour also emanates through three big names who play the ever-important role of coaches  John Wright for Mumbai Indians, Stephen Fleming for Chennai Super Kings and Daniel Vettori for Royal Challengers Bangalore.


While the first two have many trophies and accolades to their name, this is the ageing left-arm spinner’s first coaching/management role.
“It is quite interesting that there are three New Zealand coaches in the mix. Sometimes that can go against you because obviously they know our strengths but they will also come to know our weaknesses so it’s an interesting one.


“But I hope there are more coaches in there as well as players because in some ways it will help us make our mark in international cricket,” said Nathan McCullum of this peculiar situation.