The Women's Premier League is around the corner. The television rights have been sold. The five teams have their owners, and some of them have their support staff in place. The players' auction is the next - and most crucial - step. A total of 449* players - pruned from the 1525 that had registered - are part of the auction, which will take place on February 13. Here's all you need to know in the lead-up to the big day. One more player auction!
Yes. The appetiser the main event needed, right? Last month, we had bids to identify the owners
of the five teams. Now, we will know the squads.
Ok, tell me more - when, where?
The auction will be held on Monday, February 13, from 2.30pm IST. It will be held at the Jio World Convention Centre at the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai. The tournament, comprising 22 matches, will be played between March 4 and March 26
across the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai and Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.
What is at stake? How many players will be bought, or sold?
A maximum of 90 slots - the squads can have between 15 and 18 players - are up for grabs. Each team can have up to six overseas players, so there could be up to 30 non-Indian players who get teams. Nineteen players from Associate teams have also been shortlisted.
Are players from Associate nations likely to find buyers?
It is not mandatory for teams to pick an Associate player but there's an incentive for picking one. Teams can field four overseas players in their XIs, as is the case in the IPL, but they have the option of including a fifth overseas player provided she is from an Associate nation.
Okay, so what sort of money are we talking about?
For the inaugural season, the auction purse with each franchise is INR 12 crore (US$ 1.46 million approx.). International players had the option of choosing their base prices at INR 30 lakh (US$ 36,000 approx.) or INR 40 lakh (US$ 48,000 approx.) or INR 50 lakh (US$ 60,000 approx.), while uncapped players had their base prices at INR 10 lakh (US$ 12,000 approx.) and INR 20 lakh (US$ 24,000 approx.).
Tell me more about the 449 players who are a part of the auction.
Of those, 269 are from India, and 179 are overseas players, including 19 from Associate teams. There are a total of 202 capped players, and 227 uncapped players, with the 19 Associate players not part of those lists.
In terms of countries, 29 are from Australia, 31 from England, 23 from the West Indies, 19 from New Zealand, 17 from South Africa, 15 from Sri Lanka, 11 from Zimbabwe, nine each from Bangladesh and Thailand, six from Ireland, four from the UAE, two each from the Netherlands and Scotland, and one each from USA and Hong Kong.
How many players are in the top bracket, in terms of the base price?
A total of 24 players, including ten Indians, have the highest base price.
The Indians are Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma, Renuka Singh, Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Pooja Vastrakar, Richa Ghosh, Sneh Rana and Meghna Singh. The overseas players in this bracket include Ashleigh Gardner, Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen and Darcie Brown from Australia; Sophie Ecclestone, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Danni Wyatt and Katherine Sciver-Brunt from England; Sophie Devine from New Zealand; South Africa's Sinalo Jafta; West Indies' Deandra Dottin; and Loryn Phiri of Zimbabwe.
In the next category, INR 40 lakh, there are 30 players, including eight from India.
Who could be the big buys?
The first set includes Devine, Ecclestone, Gardner, Harmanpreet, Mandhana, Hayley Matthews and Perry, with only Matthews at a base price of INR 40 lakh. That could see fierce bidding as teams would want to snap up the multi-faceted players, who could offer them a leadership option, too. Lanning, Healy, Deepti and Kapp, among others, will come up in later sets, which could see teams perhaps go slow at the start.
Any surprises in the auction list?
Jafta and Phiri are in the top bracket, while more established names from South Africa, like Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail and Mignon du Preez have their base price at INR 40 lakh, and those from Zimbabwe, like captain Mary-Anne Musonda or allrounder Precious Marange, have their price set at INR 30 lakh.
Interestingly, South Africa allrounder Dane van Niekerk has listed herself at INR 30 lakh, while Lizelle Lee, who retired from internationals last year, has a base price of INR 40 lakh. And Chloe Tryon is in the INR 30 lakh category. Australia's Grace Harris has asked for INR 30 lakh while her sister Laura Harris, who is uncapped, could be a steal at INR 10 lakh.
But only ten from the other teams are in contention: England's Grace Scrivens, New Zealand's Fran Jonas, Ireland's Amy Hunter, Bangladesh's Shorna Akter, Sri Lanka's Vishmi Gunaratne, Zimbabwe's Kelis Ndhlovu, West Indies' Jannillea Glasgow, and Theertha Satish, Mahika Gaur and Vaishnave Mahesh from the UAE. Apart from Scrivens and Akter, everyone else has represented their respective countries at international level.
Who are the youngest and the oldest players in the auction?
, aged 41, is the oldest player in the auction with Zimbabwe's Marange close on the heels at 40. Kumari played six T20Is for India between 2009 and 2014, including the T20 World Cups in those two years. She last played for India in 2015 and represented Delhi in the domestic circuit.
On the other side of the spectrum are three 15-year olds, the joint-youngest in the auction. Fast bowler Shabnam MD
and left-arm spinner Sonam Yadav
, both of whom were part of the victorious India Under-19 side, and Andhra left-arm spinner Vinny Suzan all have a base price of INR 10 lakh.
What about uncapped Indians who are prominent players in the domestic circuit?
, who captained Vidarbha to the semi-finals of the Senior Women's T20 Trophy earlier this season and also topped the run-chart, is listed at INR 10 lakh, while Rajasthan's Jasia Akhter
, who had the highest strike rate (138.57) among the top ten run-scorers in the competition, is at INR 20 lakh. Sarla Devi
is the only one in the auction pool from Jammu and Kashmir, while the more experienced, hard-hitting allrounder Rubia Syed
Left-arm spinners Sonal Kalal
from Rajasthan and Sahana Pawar
from Karnataka, both among the top five wicket-takers in the domestic tournament, are in the pruned list at a base price of INR 20 lakh and INR 10 lakh respectively.
*1135 GMT, February 12: The story was updated after 40 more players were added to the auction list
S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo