Five that could surprise
Which players will fetch the highest bids at the 2011 auction? That's a no-brainer; ESPNcricinfo can rattle them off. In no particular order, Yusuf Pathan, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum, Gautam Gambhir, Dale Steyn, David Warner, Kevin Pietersen and AB de Villiers should draw the biggest bucks. But who will be the surprise picks, the JP Duminy or Kemar Roach of 2011, for whom bids will climb astronomically, far above their base prices? Siddarth Ravindran sticks his neck out and offers five names:
Aaron Finch (Australia)
Base price: US$100,000
People associating glasses with geekery should take another look at this Victoria opener. His monstrous hitting has made him an integral part of the Bushrangers, and was instrumental in their run to the Big Bash title last season, belting 189 runs at a strike-rate of 143.18 to finish second in the run-charts. That breakthrough earned him an IPL contract with Rajasthan Royals, but he barely got a chance to showcase his prowess. The Champions League gave him a stage to wow a global audience, and he lashed 197 at 148.12, including a 60-ball 93 against Central Districts. With no international commitments, his availability for the duration of the IPL is also not an issue.
Davy Jacobs (South Africa)
Base price: $20,000
Another man who would have caught the eye of IPL franchise honchos at the Champions League. Another man who specialises in providing flying starts. And another man who doesn't play for his national team, guaranteeing his presence for the entire tournament. Besides his hitting ability, Jacobs is also credited with revitalising his franchise in South Africa, the Warriors, after taking over the captaincy in 2008. He's not short of confidence as well, as this comment about about his possible selection to the South Africa side demonstates: "It will be amazing for me of course but it will be massive for South Africa as well because of what I can bring on to the table." For a tournament that is all about entertainment, Jacobs promises to provide loads of it, on and off the field.
Ryan ten Doeschate
Base price: $50,000
Cricket trivia fans will know this Netherlands allrounder is the player with the highest batting average in one-dayers: currently 68.55. He's been pivotal in Netherlands' fortunes for several years now, and also has impeccable Twenty20 credentials. With the Associates getting only crumbs of cricket, ten Doeschate has morphed into something of a Twenty20 freelancer. In just the past two months, he has turned out for domestic sides in Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Australia for the national Twenty20 tournaments, in addition to having a long-running contract with Essex. Earlier this week, he was named most valuable player in the HRV Cup, finishing near the top of the tournament charts for both runs and wickets, though he couldn't lift Canterbury to the finals.
Thisara Perera (Sri Lanka)
Base price: $50,000
Who took the most wickets for Sri Lanka in one-dayers in 2010? No, it wasn't Lasith Malinga or Muttiah Muralitharan. It was Perera. And in a tournament where multi-skilled players, especially foreign ones, are prized, his lower-order hitting skills increase his value. In his short international career, Indian fans are already aware of his dangerousness as he thumped 31 off 14 on debut, coolly finishing off a chase in Dhaka and then ripping through the middle order in Dambulla. Capable of hitting the mid-130s with his bustling seam bowling even on the flat tracks of the subcontinent, it would be no surprise if he pockets a hefty contract over the weekend.
Darren Stevens (England)
Base price: $200,000
One of the most experienced Twenty20 players around; he was among the best limited-overs players on the county scene last season, and was rewarded with a call-up to the England Lions squad. His medium-pace is backed up by some huge hitting, and he has been key to Kent's strong showings in the domestic Twenty20 competitions. His career numbers made a strong statement: 1848 runs at the superb strike-rate of 132.28, and 42 wickets at an economy-rate of 7.56. He was MVP in the 2009 Twenty20 Cup and has been part of four Twenty20 Finals Days, winning the title twice. He is also a gun-for-hire in the shortest format, having done stints in Zimbabwe and New Zealand as well.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo