Stokes, Morgan, Woakes top attractions at IPL auction
England allrounders Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes and their limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan are among the seven players who have listed themselves at the highest base price of INR 2 crore (approx US $298,000) for the IPL player auction scheduled in Bangalore on February 20. India seamer Ishant Sharma, Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, and the Australian fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Pat Cummins are the rest of the players in this set.
A total of 799 players were part of the initial roster which would be pruned once the franchises submit their choices before the deadline this weekend. There were 160 capped players from eight countries - leaving out Bangladesh and Pakistan - and 639 from India, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and West Indies. Of the 24 capped Indian cricketers, everyone barring Ishant has listed their base price at INR 30 lakh.
Considering they will have to put a majority of their players back into the auction in 2018, some franchise officials said they would not be too aggressive in buying players this season. However, they did agree that there would be considerable interest in the English players.
Although the IPL is yet to decide on the retention rules, franchises expect the right-to-match option to be available. This allows franchises to buy back a specific number of the players they have released for the auction, by matching the highest bid those players attract; if they match the bid they win the player.
With the impressive all-round skills he showed during England's recent tour of India, Stokes tops the list of marquee players that several franchises have said they would like to have.
After Andrew Strauss took over as the ECB director of cricket last year, he has allowed England players the freedom to play in domestic T20 leagues like the IPL to gain wider exposure. Morgan, who has played for three different teams, Jos Butler (Mumbai Indians), Sam Billings (Delhi Daredevils), Chris Jordan (Royal Challengers Bangalore) have all commented on the positive influence of playing the IPL.
Many England players who attended media briefings during the six-match limited-overs series in India last month spoke about the attraction of the IPL. Wicketkeeper batsman Jonny Bairstow (INR 1.5 crore), hard-hitting opening batsmen Alex Hales and Jason Roy (INR 1 crore) and fast bowlers Jordan and Tymal Mills (INR 50 lakh) have put their names up for auction.
Franchises retained a total of 140 players and released 89 ahead of this IPL auction. Among those released and now trying to make a return are Johnson (Kings XI Punjab, INR 6.5 crore), Mathews (Delhi Daredevils, INR 7.5 crore), Ishant (Rising Pune Supergiants, INR 3.8 crore) and Morgan (Sunrisers Hyderabad, INR 1.5 crore).
Former South Africa fast bowler Kyle Abbott, who recently moved to Hampshire as a Kolpak player, has listed his base price at INR 1.5 cr. Abott was bought by Kings XI in 2016 for INR 2.1 crore but was released in December. Another player attempting to make a return is New Zealand fast bowler Trent Boult, who was hired by Sunrisers in 2015 for INR 3.8 crore. Boult has now listed his base price at INR 1.5 crore.
West Indies ODI captain Jason Holder has also kept his price at INR 1.5 crore. He was with Kolkata Knight Riders, who had bought him for INR 75 lakh in 2014, until last season. India left-arm spinner Pawan Negi, who was the second-most expensive player bought at last year's auction by the Daredevils for INR 8.5 crore comes into the auction with a base price of INR 30 lakh.
Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo