Ponting surprised at his low price
Ricky Ponting says he is disappointed he did not sell for more at Wednesday's Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, where he was valued nearly US$1 million lower than Andrew Symonds. However, Ponting said there would be no friction in the Australian dressing room following the bidding war, during which he went to Kolkata for $400,000.
"I thought I might have been able to attract a little bit more than that," Ponting said. "The fact I haven't made a lot of runs over the last couple of weeks probably hasn't helped much. But realistically we as Australian players probably won't be able to take part in the first couple of years of the event anyway."
Symonds, who Hyderabad purchased for $1.35m, has not had a strong CB Series either, while the in-form Brett Lee fetched $900,000. Ponting, Matthew Hayden ($375,000) and Michael Hussey (350,00) may have been under-valued, however Ponting said there would be nothing but light-hearted banter in the Australian camp.
"I'll have a bit of a laugh and joke with everybody today," he said. "I've already sent Symmo a few messages saying that any time I go out with him from now on it's his shout, which is not always the case with Symmo either, he's pretty much the first one to dodge a shout whenever he can."
Both Australia and Sri Lanka must put the monstrous pay-cheques out of their minds while they keep pushing to win the CB Series, which continues with a clash between the two sides in Melbourne on Friday. Like Australia, there were some lofty price-tags placed on Sri Lanka players, notably Sanath Jayasuriya, who went to Mumbai for $975,000.
Mahela Jayawardene was sold to Mohali for $475,000 and he will be in familiar company, with Kumar Sangakkara also at the franchise which will be coached by Tom Moody, their former mentor of the national side. Jayawardene said there were "a few happy faces" after the auction.
"It's good that it's over now and we can concentrate [although] we were never that much focused on IPL," Jayawardene said. "This is the start of a good event and it will probably be very successful. All the guys are very keen, it'll be great.
"I had a chat to Tom last night, that's about it. It was a good chat we had and he just sent a text saying welcome back. Both Kumar and myself, it will be good to work with him again. [But] IPL is in April, so we have got much more cricket ahead of us before IPL."
At least Sri Lanka's players should be free of other commitments at the time, whereas Australia have tours of Pakistan and West Indies that are complicating matters. Last week Ponting called for the IPL to be included in the Future Tours Programme to allow all players from all nations the chance to participate and he said it was now even more important the ICC considers the idea.
"I read a few things in the paper a couple of days after [I first said] that, some people sat back and had a bit of a laugh and joke at what I had to say," he said. "I think everyone now understands that with the amount of money that's been bandied around and spent over the last couple of days there is going to be some tough decisions to be made for international cricketers.
"If it doesn't fit into an international programme then you could see lots and lots of very good Test and one-day players just giving it up and going and playing in the Twenty20 tournament." However, it seems Ponting's plea has fallen on deaf ears with the ICC announcing it would not squeeze the IPL into the existing international calendar.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo