Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch have chosen not to enter the IPL auction, keeping in mind Australia's packed schedule over the first half of 2019 - a home summer followed by a World Cup in England, and then the Ashes series.
England's Sam Curran, one of the finds of 2018 as an allrounder, has put himself in a group of nine capped players who have listed themselves at the maximum base price of INR 2 crore (USD 278,000 approx). Also among this group is Sri Lanka fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who last season was on the Mumbai Indians coaching staff, playing the role of mentor.
Maxwell and Finch were among a host of players released by their franchises in November, having just spent one season with their new teams. Maxwell was released by Delhi Daredevils (now renamed Delhi Capitals), who signed him in January for INR 9 crore (USD 1.4 million approx then). Finch was picked by Kings XI Punjab for INR 6.2 crore (USD 948,000).
Among some of the big names listed in the auction pool are Dale Steyn (base price INR 1.5 crore/USD 208,000 approx), Brendon McCullum, D'Arcy Short, Corey Anderson (all INR 2 crore). Jaydev Unadkat has listed the maximum base price by an Indian player at INR 1.5 crore. Unadkat, the left-arm fast bowler, was the the highest-paid Indian player at the January 2018 auction, with Rajasthan Royals signing him for INR 11.5 crore (USD 1.796 million approx).
Availability was always going to be the key factor ahead of this auction, scheduled for December 18 in Jaipur. Although the BCCI has not finalised the dates the IPL is likely to run between March 23 and mid-May. The venue, too, has not been finalised because the BCCI is waiting for the dates of India's general elections. In 2009 and 2014 - the last two seasons that clashed with general elections - the IPL moved to South Africa and the UAE (first half of the season) respectively.
ESPNcricinfo understands the BCCI has decided to wait until mid-January before finalising the venue. The BCCI wants the IPL to take place in India as far as possible but has worked out a back-up plan where the tournament will be displaced overseas with South Africa as a favourite alternative venue.
But the biggest challenge for the franchises next season is that the IPL will end a couple of weeks before the World Cup begins on May 30 in England. The availability of overseas players, as a result, has been the biggest concern for the franchises.
In an email sent to the franchises on Monday, which ESPNcricinfo has accessed, the IPL listed out the cut-off dates for overseas players for all countries. Barring New Zealand and West Indies, all other boards have restricted the availability of their players.
The Australian players will spend the least time in the IPL considering the Sheffield Shield final ends on April 1. Moreover, most of the first-choice Australian players, including Maxwell and Finch, are likely to be in the UAE playing a five-match ODI series against Pakistan. Although the dates have not been announced yet, that series is expected to begin in late March and end in the first half of April. Cricket Australia has set May 2 as the cut-off date for players in their World Cup squad to return for a preparatory camp.
The players in England's World Cup squad will return home on April 25 for their camp while the rest of the English players can continue in the IPL until May 19. The South African players will need to report for their World Cup camp by May 10, the Sri Lankans by May 6, Bangladesh's players by April 15 and Ireland's by April 30. The Afghanistan Cricket Board is yet to finalise a cut-off date.
On Monday, the IPL sent a longlist of 946 players to the eight franchises including 200 capped players, of whom 25 are Indians and three are Associate players. The franchises will need to send the IPL the list of players they want added to the longlist by December 7. By December 10, the franchises will need to send the IPL the list of players they want in the auction pool following which a pruned and final list will be prepared.
Nagraj Gollapudi is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo