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Feature

From Mandhana to Kapp - five players who could fetch big money at the WPL auction

Will Alyssa Healy be the most in-demand player?

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
12-Feb-2023
Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana are expected to fetch big money at the auction  •  Asian Cricket Council

Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana are expected to fetch big money at the auction  •  Asian Cricket Council

For the cream of women's cricket, currently in South Africa for the T20 World Cup, February 13 could be a landmark day in many ways at the inaugural Women's Premier League (WPL) auction. Here's ESPNcricinfo's shortlist for those who could break the bank on auction day ahead of the WPL from March 4 to 26.
Mandhana is likely to be on the radar of all five WPL teams because she can tick all three items on the checklist: marketability, performance and captaincy. A renowned face in the franchise circuit around the world, having already featured in the Women's Big Bash League and the Women's Hundred, Mandhana's power game coupled with her consistency, makes her a key figure in any T20 outfit. Among players to have scored over 200 runs at the Women's Hundred last year, Mandhana's strike rate of 151.79 was second-best. She is currently in the midst of a minor form slump, but that's unlikely to diminish her demand.
She broke through at the Women's T20 Challenge in 2019, a tournament put together to test the waters before formulating plans for the WPL. Her swift rise as one of the most destructive batters in the women's game has left many wondering what could've been had the T20 Challenge not been introduced, given she plays for Haryana and not traditional powerhouses Railways, who have dominated the Indian women's cricket scene. Shafali is on a career high. Over time, franchises have tended to invest in young players for the long run. Shafali, who recently led India to the inaugural women's U-19 World Cup title, could be that one big investment teams may want to make.
She can hit some of the biggest sixes in the women's game. The ability to unsettle the best in the business up front lends an air of intimidation to her batting. You'd struggle to find harder hitters of the cricket ball in the women's game than Healy, who over the past decade, has grown from strength to strength. She is also a big-match player. Ask the Indians, who bore the brunt of her carnage in front of 86,174 fans at MCG at the previous Women's T20 World Cup final in 2020. Her tidy glove work and game smarts will make her an in-demand player.
A prolific title winner in franchise cricket, Kapp offers the advantage of pace and swing, as well as lower-order batting muscle that puts her in the same bracket as Ellyse Perry, Ashleigh Gardner among others when it comes to the top allrounders in the women's game currently. She is been part of the back-to-back title-winning Oval Invincibles team at the Women's Hundred, apart from clinching the 2021 WBBL title with Perth Scorchers. She is a big-match player, well-showcased by her player-of-the-match winning effort in all three finals.
Holder of the highest individual score in women's ODIs, Kerr, 22, is well-placed to take over the baton from Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine as one of the pillars of New Zealand cricket for the decade to come. A top-order batter who can deliver four overs of ripping legbreaks, Kerr is among the best multi-skilled cricketers in the franchise circuit. Her WBBL record over time for Brisbane Heat is testimony to that. Her 52 wickets have come at an average of 19.86 and an economy of 6.19. Having broken through as a teenage sensation, Kerr has continued to push the bar with her skills.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo