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Robin Uthappa, Naseem Shah in SA20 auction shortlist

Last season's edition of the South African T20 franchise league did not feature any players from India or Pakistan

Naseem Shah is among three Pakistan cricketers listed in the maximum base price  •  Associated Press

Naseem Shah is among three Pakistan cricketers listed in the maximum base price  •  Associated Press

Robin Uthappa could become the first Indian player to feature in the SA20, after having registered for the auction ahead of the second season of the South African franchise T20 league. And in another first, he could be joined by five Pakistan players, including Naseem Shah. Neither Indian nor Pakistani players were part of the inaugural season of the SA20.
While Uthappa is the only Indian in the list, there are other Pakistan players in the auction, set for September 27 in Johannesburg. This includes allrounder Mohammad Nawaz, batter Shan Masood and legspinners Usama Mir and Usman Qadir.
No Pakistan player had featured in last season's auction, and none of them were picked via the wild-card rule that allowed franchises to sign up one player from outside the auction list. This was in part because the SA20 happened amid a busy Pakistan home season, but there was also a sense that their players would be snubbed because all six SA20 franchises are owned by owners of Indian Premier League teams and relations - both cricketing and political - between India and Pakistan remain poor. No Pakistan player has played in the IPL since 2008.
India players, meanwhile, rarely feature in T20 leagues outside of the IPL, with the BCCI reluctant to allow them to do so. Uthappa, 37, last turned out for India in 2015 but only retired from all Indian cricket - IPL included - in September 2022.
In all, 122 players from 14 countries are on the auction shortlist, and 14 of them have listed their base price at the maximum Rand 850,000 (US $45,000 approx.). These include Masood, Nawaz and Naseem from Pakistan; India's Uthappa; Sri Lanka's Lahiru Kumara and Angelo Mathews; New Zealand's Colin de Grandhomme; West Indies' Romario Shepherd and Brandon King; England's Adam Lyth, Josh Tongue, David Payne and Wayne Madsen; and Australia's Kane Richardson.

South Africa players could miss New Zealand Tests

In a world where T20 franchise cricket increasingly eats into the international calendar, the SA20 comes with complications of its own. South Africa's Test series against New Zealand next February is set to clash with the SA20 - New Zealand Cricket has said it cannot postpone the series because of New Zealand's other commitments - and several first-choice Test players are expected to miss the series with Cricket South Africa (CSA) guaranteeing the SA20 first rights to its players.
Already, Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, Keshav Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada are among the retained players who will not go to New Zealand, and if picked at the auction the list could extend to Kyle Verreynne, Zubayr Hamza, Tony de Zorzi, Stiaan van Zyl, Keegan Petersen, Lutho Sipamla, Dean Elgar, Duanne Olivier and Khaya Zondo, all of whom have Test caps.
ESPNcricinfo has confirmed with several sources that CSA will not seek to postpone the New Zealand Tests again, and red-ball coach Shukri Conrad will assemble a makeshift squad for the series.

Rookie players introduced for SA20

This season's SA20 auction will include a new category: rookie player - that is, South African players aged 22 or under on the day of the auction, who have not been contracted to SA20 before. Each squad will need to get in one rookie player. A SA20 press release said, "Each rookie player has a set value, which will be deducted from the team's salary cap of R39.1 million - an increase of R5.1 million from last season.
"Recent South Africa U-19 captains Bryce Parsons, George van Heerden and Juan James are among the Rookie player list, along with domestic first-class players such as Jonathan Bird, Ruan Terblanche and Tiaan van Vuuren."

When, where and how much - auction nitty gritty

The auction is set to happen on September 27, in Johannesburg, from 4pm local time. The shortlist includes 122 players from 14 countries.
All squads will need a minimum of ten South African players, a maximum of seven international players, a rookie player, and a wildcard. The wildcard can be signed outside the auction, until December 30.
The teams have a salary purse of Rand 39.1 million (US $2 million approx.) - an increase of Rand 5.1 million (US $260,000 approx.) from last season.
Durban's Super Giants: Players pre-signed: Quinton de Kock, Prenelan Subrayen, Kyle Mayers, Naveen-ul-Haq, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Reece Topley
Purse remaining: Rand 1.675 million (US $88,000 approx.)
Minimum slots to fill: Three
Joburg Super Kings: Players pre-signed: Faf du Plessis, Gerald Coetzee, Moeen Ali, David Wiese, Sam Cook, Zahir Khan
Purse remaining: Rand 6.1 million (US $320,000 approx.)
Minimum slots to fill: Five
MI Cape Town: Players pre-signed: Kagiso Rabada, Dewald Brevis, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone, Rashid Khan, Tom Banton
Purse remaining: Rand 5.05 million (US $265,000 approx.)
Minimum slots to fill: Four
Paarl Royals: Players pre-signed: David Miller, Corbin Bosch, Jos Buttler, Obed McCoy
Purse remaining: Rand 8.865 million (US $465,000 approx.)
Minimum slots to fill: Four
Pretoria Capitals: Players pre-signed: Migael Pretorius, Anrich Nortje, Jimmy Neesham
Purse remaining: Rand 9.737 million (US $511,000 approx.)
Minimum slots to fill: Six
Sunrisers Eastern Cape: Players pre-signed: Aiden Markram, Ottniel Baartman, Dawid Malan, Liam Dawson
Purse remaining: Rand 1.790 million (US $94,000 approx.)
Minimum slots to fill: Three