Cricket Corner: Aussie summer sparks into life as IPL franchises prepare to show might


Cricket Corner: Aussie summer sparks into life as IPL franchises prepare to show might

David Warner will be appearing in his final Test series against Pakistan
David Warner will be appearing in his final Test series against PakistanProfimedia
In this weekly feature, Flashscore's Pat Dempsey brings together the leading talking points from the increasingly sprawling universe of the world's second-most watched sport.

In a nod to the longest form of the game - Test cricket - the article is broken into three sections to mirror the main intervals in a day’s play: Lunch - the main course; Tea - something extra; and Stumps (the end of play) - something to ponder over a few drinks at the bar.

Lunch - Aussie summer sparks off

Summer is breaking in the southern hemisphere and that means international attention is turning down under. There’s something iconic about Australia's annual home summer of cricket - the grounds, the commentary teams, and invariably, the winning. This time should be no different in the latter respect with back-to-back Test series against Pakistan (three matches) and the West Indies (two matches).

Yes, that's right - the Windies did tour just last year and barely put up a fight. Pakistan, meanwhile, haven’t won a match in Australia since 1995. It’s not the most inspiring schedule but, oh well, we’ll take them. More than anything, the three-match series against Pakistan will double as a David Warner farewell event as the feisty left-hander has announced he will retire after the third Test in Sydney - his home ground. That is, of course, if he makes it until then.

If you agree with his ex-teammate Mitchell Johnson, you might think Warner should already be long gone. The Johnson vs Warner war of words has dominated the Aussie headlines in the last week but that could be more a symptom of there being no news rather than this rather laboured quarrel being of any substance. The current world champions in Test and One-day formats simply don’t have many issues. What do you do in the media if there isn’t an issue? You create one! Warner, to his credit, responded to Johnson with an uncharacteristically straight bat.

Let’s get one thing straight, the Australian selectors have not picked an extra opener in the squad for the first Test in Perth, so Warner will play. After that, let’s see. If he gets a score, he’ll be locked in until Sydney, for sure. For the record, Warner needs just 177 more runs to become the highest-scoring opening batsman in Australian Test history. Some career.

The question is who succeeds him at the top of the order once he calls it a day in the longest format. Both Mitchell Marsh and Travis Head have softly ruled themselves out of moving up the order and thus it appears to be a shoot-out between Sandpaper-gate’s Cameron Bancroft, perennial understudy Marcus Harris and Queensland’s Matthew Renshaw. All three have had chances and all three played Pakistan in the tour match last week with Renshaw the only one to score a century - for that reason and others, he appears next in line.

Tea - More like the Big Splash League

The other component to the Aussie summer of cricket is the Big Bash League (BBL) - the slightly cartoonish Twenty20 (T20) franchise competition that has struggled over the years to reach the sporting levels of the world’s best T20 competitions as much as it has struggled to fully capture the attention of the Australian public, let alone elsewhere.

This season, the BBL has been shortened, which is probably a wise move. Unfortunately, weather has meant it has gotten off to a slightly rocky, or rather wet, start with two of the first four matches abandoned. Rain will always be cricket’s greatest enemy but how the fourth match between Melbourne Renegades and Perth Scorchers in Geelong got called off was particularly disappointing.

The ground staff had attempted to dry the pitch after rainwater had crept in under the covers overnight but that proved insufficient as, after just seven overs, play was abandoned due to the dangerous movement of the ball off the soggy wicket. Renegades captain Nic Maddinson had called the pitch "absolutely drenched" at the toss and sent the Scorchers in to bat as a result.

The idea behind the BBL from a strategic perspective seems to be to pair it with the Test schedule so that TV viewers are taken to it after a day’s play and so it exists at the time when fans in Australia are most engaged with the sport. There are advantages to this but the obvious disadvantage is that the Test-team regulars miss out on it, aside from a few rounds. Coupled with the fact that the league struggles to attract much of the best global talent, it feels like the BBL sits somewhere uncomfortably between a wannabe glossy franchise comp and a T20 development league.

If you can’t make it be the former, why not just double down on being the latter? I like the fact that the league provides a platform for emerging talent but I’m not sure what the odd overseas star and mostly B-grade imports bring to the event, especially when many aren’t there for the entirety of it. It’s been mooted before but I would prefer to see the BBL replaced with a state-based competition - condense the talent pool and increase the relevance. In the meantime, long live the BBL! Oh, by the way, the Scorchers are going for a third title on the trot.

Stumps - The franchise spin

'You spin me right round, baby, right round like'… the global T20 franchise schedule. Yes, the BBL is underway and then it will be the SA20 and then it will be the PSL and then it will be the IPL - the main event. Oh yeah, somewhere in amongst that is the ILT20 (for some reason) and it's all pretty much back to back to back. With all the international cricket that is going on as well, it is undeniably hard to keep up with it all.

By this time next week, the IPL auction will have been conducted for the 2024 season. It’s not the mega-auction (held every four years) but just the mini variety - meaning less movement is expected. Despite that, some huge sums of money could be posted with plenty of big-name players up for grabs. 

Each franchise has a certain amount of salary cap to play with and a finite number of local and overseas berths available in their roster - you can read more about it here. There are a total of 333 players up for auction, 214 are Indians and 119 are overseas players, just two of which are from associate nations.

Players elect which minimum base price bracket they will enter. Of the 333, 23 players are in the top bracket worth two crore Indian rupees, while 13 players are in the next 1.5 crore group. I know what you’re thinking - what the hell is crore again? Basically, in the Indian numerical system, they count big sums in lakhs and crores. One lakh is 100,000 and one crore is 100 lakh - ten million.

The base price for the top bracket is thus 20 million rupees - that’s almost a quarter of a million US dollars. This is the minimum price to start the bidding for those players, mind. For some of the big boys, the bidding will push their payday up into the millions of dollars.

In the top bracket are the likes of Pat Cummins, Steve Smith and Travis Head from Australia. England’s Harry Brook, Adil Rashid and Ben Duckett and South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen and Rilee Rossouw. In the second bracket are some big gets as well - Wanindu Hasaranga, Jason Holder and Chris Jordan could all attract healthy offers. There are a lot of players up for grabs and a ton of money - enough to make your head spin!



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