|Player:||MJ Clarke, SR Clark, BJ Haddin, JJ Krejza, JP Duminy, RK Kleinveldt|
Last year, Michael 'Pup' Clarke chose to skip the Indian Premier League in order to spend time with his ailing father. This year, he's set to make a big bag entry, with a reserve price of $1 million - the minimum that the franchisees will have to bid for him at the second IPL auction on February 6. The Australian vice-captain is thus set to become only the second foreign player to breach the $1 million mark, after Andrew Symonds got a fee of $1.35 million last year. Clarke's reserve price puts him way ahead of the other 88 players on the list for this year's auction, with his colleagues Brad Haddin, Stuart Clark and Jason Krejza being priced much lower at $250,000.
However, Clarke might not eventually end up as the biggest buy. Now that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed the availability of its players for a three-week window, the players' list will be updated and there is a strong likelihood of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff drawing bigger bids than Clarke. There are some other 'hot picks' like South Africa's JP Duminy, who is there in the preliminary list, although no reserve price has been earmarked for him just yet.
Last year, Indian skipper MS Dhoni drew the highest price at the inaugural auction, with Chennai Super Kings forking out a whopping $1.5 million. In contrast, this year's auction, a one-day affair in Goa, is expected to be relatively low-key, unlike last year when it had extensive TV coverage and Bollywood presence.
Though there are players from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and a player from Zimababwe, the franchisees don't sound too excited about the names. Also, this year each IPL team has a $2-million budget in contrast to $5 million last year. However, there are a few new names which have created interest among the franchisees: Rory Kleinveldt of South Africa has a base price of $225,000, above some tried and tested players like Australia's Brad Hogg who is pegged at $200,000.
Although every player wants to be a part of the IPL, only 15 to 20 per cent are likely to be sold, with the IPL not liable to pay any money to those who fail to find a buyer, according to the new rules. The recession coupled with the fact that most teams already have their lineups more or less in place has meant reduced clamour for new players this year. "Where is the money? Some of the players from Australia are not even available for the entire season, so what is the point," a team official said. Teams are likely to go for just a player or two, or a maximum of four in some cases. The eight teams are now waiting for the final updated list, with the inclusion of England players.
Top 15 Players for IPL Auction (all figures in US dollars)
Michael Clarke (Aus) 1,000,000; Brad Haddin (Aus) 250,000; Stuart Clark (Aus) 250,000; Jason Krejza (Aus) 250,000; Rory Kleinveldt (SA) 225,000; Brad Hogg (Aus) 200,000; Doug Bollinger (Aus) 150,000; Shakib Al Hasan (Bang) 150,000; Tim Southee (NZ) 150,000; Kyle Mills (NZ) 150,000; Thilan Thushara (SL) 125,000; Charles Langeveldt (SA) 125,000; Darren Sammy (WI) 120,000; Kieron Pollard (WI) 120,000; Andre Fletcher (WI) 120,000.