AUSTRALIA will be heavily represented when the Indian Premier League starts today. We look at Australia’s richest XI at this tournament and assess their prospects.
Rajasthan Royals ($2.2 million)
Shane Watson is an in-demand T20 player. Source: News Limited
The backstory: Watson may have his detractors, but he remains one of the hottest properties on the Twenty20 circuit. The Royals retained him in 2014 (meaning he was not available at auction) and have installed him as captain. He will lead a side brimming with Australian talent, including fellow all-rounder James Faulkner.
The highlight: Watson was instrumental in leading the Royals to the inaugural IPL title in 2008. He was named player of the tournament after scoring 472 runs at 47.20 and claiming 17 wickets at 22.52 (both fourth over all). He won the same award last season — the only player to have claimed the trophy twice.
The stats: Watson has played 55 games in the IPL. He has scored 1785 runs at 39.67 with a strike-rate of 145.6. He has taken 48 wickets at 26.40 with an economy rate of 7.19.
The quote: “We’ve got, in my thoughts, the strongest squad we’ve ever had for the Rajasthan Royals. We’ve got really high quality options and back-up for every position in our team which we haven’t exactly had every year in the past.”
Rajasthan Royals ($1.7 million)
James Faulkner is hoping he can repeat his successful performance in the IPL last year. Source: News Limited
The backstory: Playing with his third franchise in four years after earlier stints with the Kings XI Punjab and the now defunct Pune Warriors. Like Watson, he was retained by the Royals after a stellar 2013 season with reports in India suggesting his wage this year has hit an astonishing $1.7 million.
The highlight: Faulkner was the IPL’s second highest wicket-taker in 2013 with 28, trailing only Dwayne Bravo’s 32. He boasted a superior average (15.25) and economy rate to Bravo (6.75) and claimed two of the three five-wicket hauls recorded during the tournament. His figures of 5-16 and 5-20 — both against the Sunrisers — were the best individual spells of any bowler in the IPL last year.
The stats: Faulkner has played 19 matches in the IPL. He has taken 32 wickets at 15.88 with an economy rate of 6.99. He has scored 71 runs at 11.83 with a strike rate of 101.43.
The quote: “(The Royals) have … explained how each wicket is going to be. They have taught me some of those key aspects and facts of Twenty20 cricket in India. The pitches are obviously a bit slower than back home, so I have been working on different variations.”
Kings XI Punjab ($1.1 million)
Mitchell Johnson won the 2014 Allan Border Medal. Source: News Limited
The backstory: Johnson freely admits that Twenty20 is not his favoured format and the Australian paceman cost himself millions by declining to nominate for previous IPL auctions to focus on Test cricket. That changed last year and his efforts caught the attention of IPL recruiters.
The highlight: Johnson won the IPL at his first attempt last year with the Mumbai Indians. He was the franchise’s equal leading wicket taker with 24 alongside veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh. His performances were rewarded with a massive payday at the 2014 auction.
The stats: Johnson has played 17 matches in the IPL. He has taken 24 wickets at 19.12 with an economy rate of 7.17.
The quote: “One of the. things I got out of it was to come across different cultures in the side. So, you can get a bit of an understanding as to how other teams and other players go about it. And all in all, the IPL is just unbelievable. It’s a bit of a circus, the crowds are massive and get right behind it … And it’s just so full on.”
Kings XI Punjab ($1.06 million)
Glenn Maxwell will earn quite a paycheck for his IPL appearance. Source: AFP
The backstory: Maxwell has netted more than $1 million at the last two IPL auctions. He was snapped up by the Mumbai Indians amid great fanfare in 2013, but ended up warming the bench for the majority of the tournament and played just three games. Popular Indian website Rediff labelled him a “million dollar waste”.
The highlight: Maxwell was used sparingly during Mumbai’s charge to the IPL-Champions League double last year.
The stats: Maxwell has played five matches in the IPL. He has scored 42 runs at 14.00 with a strike rate of 110.53. He has taken one wicket at 45.00 with an economy rate of 9.00.
The quote: “There was a big chunk that arrived in my account one day. My manager called me and said, ‘I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but Mumbai’s paid you 65 per cent.’ I said: “Yeah, that did cross my mind when I tried to get 20 bucks out at the ATM the other day. I’m still a bit shocked it all happened so quickly.”
Sunrisers Hyderabad ($978,000)
A sweet striker of the ball, Warner should continue his excellent form. Source: Getty Images
The backstory: Warner is entering his sixth season in the IPL, having played the previous five with the Delhi Daredevils. Warner ascended to the role of vice-captain with the Daredevils, but was part of the clean out after an unsuccessful 2013 campaign. He will be joined by compatriot Aaron Finch at Hyderabad this season.
The highlight: Warner smashed an unbeaten 107 from 69 deliveries against the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2010. He followed that with 109* from just 55 deliveries against Deccan charges two years later. Only Chris Gayle has scored more IPL centuries than Warner.
The stats: Warner has played 55 matches in the IPL. He has scored 1435 runs at 28.70 with a strike rate of 133.12.
The quote: “I am looking forward to playing for the Sunrisers. The team looks very good and there are a number of match winners in the side — Dale Steyn and Amit Mishra. But most importantly I will be opening the batting with Shikhar Dhawan. They had a clear strategy going in to the auction and the team reflects that.”
Mumbai Indians ($889,000)
Mike Hussey was a huge success playing for the Sydney Thunder. Source: News Limited
The backstory: Hussey is entering his seventh IPL campaign and his first with Mumbai. He had been an integral member of the most successful franchise in IPL history — the Chennai Super Kings — helping them to back-to-back titles in 2010-2011 and three more finals.
The highlight: Hussey was the leading run-scorer in the IPL last year with 733 runs at 52.35, eclipsing the likes of Chris Gayle, Virat Koli, Suresh Raina and Shane Watson. He was the second player ever to score an IPL century after New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum. Hussey smashed an unbeaten 116 from 54 balls against Kings XI Punjab in 2008.
The stats: Hussey has played 46 matches in the IPL. He has scored 1691 runs at 44.50 with a strike rate of 124.34.
The quote: “I am really looking forward to spending time with (Sachin Tendulkar) and talking about life and cricket. He will probably be sick of me by the end of the IPL. It will be different but I am excited by the challenge of joining a team that I have admired and respected over the six years.”
Royal Challengers Bangalore ($889,000)
Mitchell Starc could set himself up for a fine IPL future should he do well in his debut season. Source: AFP
The backstory: Starc will make his IPL debut this season. He made international headlines in 2013 when he withdrew from the auction — costing himself up to $1 million — to focus on the Ashes series.
The highlight: Starc picked up close to $1 million at the 2014 auction. Ranked No. 2 on Cricket Australia’s central contract list last season, Starc has fallen back in Australia’s pace pecking order after a summer blighted by injuries. But Royal Challengers Bangalore feel he is poised for big things, and rewarded him with one of the biggest contracts for an overseas paceman in 2014.
The stats: On debut.
The quote: “In the past I have turned it down but with no cricket scheduled for Australia until September, this is a perfect chance”.
Delhi Daredevils ($755,000)
Coulter-Nile was shocked he was bought by the Delhi Daredevils for so much money. Source: News Limited
The backstory: Mumbai engaged in a bidding war with Rajasthan and ended up shelling out $500,000 for the then little-known Australian all-rounder in 2013. He played only one match, but his subsequent form in Australia prompted Delhi to splash the cash this time around.
The highlight: Coulter-Nile’s only IPL scalp was a big one. He bowled Adam Gilchrist — a legend of the IPL who was named player of the tournament in 2009 — in Dhamasala last year. H can expect much more game time with the Daredevils this season.
The stats: Coulter-Nile has played one match in the IPL. He has taken one wicket at 29.00.
The quote: “I went away to get some money to pay for dinner (in 2013), came back and all the boys were at the table and someone had the auction up on their phone. I came over and looked down and I remember thinking, ‘What? This must be a joke’, because it was up to $US250,000 at that stage and I was in shock, I just couldn’t talk.”
Sunrisers Hyderabad ($710,000)
Aaron Finch is known for a high strike rate. Source: News Limited
The backstory: Finch is entering his sixth season in the IPL, having represented the Delhi Daredevils and now defunct Pune Warriors before being required by the Sunrisers this year. He paid alongside Warner with the Daredevils and will link with him again in Hyderabad.
The highlight: Finch had limited game time in his first four IPL seasons but broke through for 14 appearances last year. He belted four half centuries during that span, including a personal-best 67 from 45 balls against Chennai and a man of the match-winning 64 against Rajasthan. He was Pune’s highest run scorer last year.
The stats: Finch has played 23 matches in the IPL. He has scored 579 runs at 25.17 with a strike rate of 127.53.
The quote: “Sehwag told us that the important thing about playing in the subcontinent is that at times you can try and capitalise on the new ball when the field is in. The ball is at its best for batting and that’s when you get the opportunity to get ahead in the game.”
Rajasthan Royals ($710,000)
Steve Smith was a star player for the Sydney Sixers in the KFC Big Bash. Source: News Limited
The backstory: Smith had to wait longer than most to experience active duty in the IPL. He was picked up by Bangalore in 2010 as a replacement for Jesse Ryder but was never called off the bench. The now defunct Kochi Tuskers Kerala spent $250, 000 at the 2011 auction but he missed the tournament due to ankle surgery. He enjoyed two productive seasons with the now defunct Pune Warriors in 2012 and 2013.
The highlight: Smith was named man of the match in his debut IPL match against Mumbai Indians last year. He hit 39 from 32 balls to guide Pune to victory on a low-scoring affair in Mumbai. He can expect much more game time his year under the captaincy of Shane Watson, having impressed as skipper of the Sydney Sixers in the BBL.
The stats: Smith has played 22 matches in the IPL. He has scored 521 runs at 40.08 with a strike rate of 130.58.
The quote: “I’m happy with the results I’ve had recently and just being able to win games for Australia at the moment is my aim. You never know what’s going to happen down the track. That extra bit of responsibility and captaining this (NSW) group here is amazing.”
Kings XI Punjab ($577,000)
George Bailey will have his T20 skills tested in the IPL. Source: Getty Images
The backstory: Bailey has had limited exposure to the IPL, having played just four games for the Chennai Super Kings in 2009 and 2010. That will change this season when he leads Kings XI Punjab.
The highlight: Bailey has divided opinion across India since being named Kings XI’s captain for 2014. A limited IPL record and a relatively modest auction price did not dissuade Punjab management from installing Australia’s national Twenty20 captain to the top job with the franchise. He will have a. Large Australian contingent to call upon this season.
The stats: Bailey has played four matches in the IPL. He has scored 63 runs at 21.00 with a strike rate of 96.92.
The quote: “(Sehwag) is going to be a leader in the team anyway with his experience and talent. I’m sure he will pass that to the youngsters and motivate them. I am equally excited to play with Virender as much as everybody. I also love the attitude of the people in Punjab, it will be great to get back here for the second-leg.”