Cricket Corner: Aussie quicks break the bank as Phil Salt steps up to the plate


Cricket Corner: Aussie quicks break the bank as Phil Salt steps up to the plate

Phil Salt is the first man to score two T20 international centuries for England but he was not sold at the IPL auction
Phil Salt is the first man to score two T20 international centuries for England but he was not sold at the IPL auctionAFP
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 - The million-dollar men

Crore, lakh, the bidding wars! That’s the IPL auction and it all happened on Tuesday in Dubai with some record-breaking dealings done. The initial headline news was Pat Cummins breaking the auction record when he was signed by Sunrisers Hyderabad for just under 2.5 million USD. But then, only about an hour later, his Australia teammate, Mitchell Starc broke the record again when Kolkata Knight Riders snapped him up for a whopping sum just shy of $3million.

Money well spent? We shall see. Both Starc and Cummins were widely tipped to attract huge sums - especially Starc. As a top-class left-armer with genuine pace, not to mention one of the best white-ball bowlers in the world, Starc was always going to be highly sought after. He returns to the IPL stage for the first time since 2015.

The other million-dollar men were New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell (Chennai Super Kings), India’s Harshal Patel (Punjab Kings), Alzarri Joseph (Royal Challengers Bangalore) of the West Indies and IPL newcomer Spencer Johnson (Gujarat Titans), another left-arm Aussie quick. The 20-year-old uncapped Indian batter Sameer Rizvi went for just about one million dollars to champions Chennai - he's one to keep an eye on when the tournament starts in March.

Equally as interesting as who was bought was who wasn’t. Steve Smith missed out completely, which wasn’t a huge surprise given his waning power in the format. However, Josh Hazlewood, Phil Salt and Adil Rashid all being overlooked was eye-catching. You can see the full list of sold and unsold players here - there’s a champion side in that list of unsold players, I’m sure of it!

Tea - White-ball roundup

There’s been a bit of international white-ball cricket going on which we haven’t given much love to in Cricket Corner. So, here you go! India are in South Africa, playing a three-format series against the Proteas. The Twenty20 (T20) leg finished 1-1 after a washed-out first match. Suryakumar Yadav proved he is still very much 'The Man' in T20Is with a brilliant ton in the third outing. The One Day International (ODI) series is also level at 1-1 after two lopsided and low-scoring matches. The decider is on Thursday with a Test series to follow (more on that below).

Over in the Caribbean, England are battling a resurgent West Indies. The only team that had a worse World Cup than England was... well, the Windies, who didn’t even qualify, therefore they have had some points to prove. After winning the ODI series 2-1, the hosts stormed into a 2-0 lead in the 20-over series only to be pegged back by the bat of Phil Salt, who, with the help of Harry Brook, led England to an incredible chase in game three. In the fourth match on Tuesday, Salt did it again, scoring a second consecutive century as England posted a mammoth total of 267 that the Windies couldn't get near. Maybe those IPL franchises will regret overlooking him... The fifth and final T20 is on Thursday.

After an intriguing two-Test series in Bangladesh, New Zealand are currently hosting the Tigers on a white-ball tour. The Black Caps won the first rain-curtailed ODI and wrapped up the series in game two after chasing down 291. Soumya Sarkar’s first-innings knock of 169 was only seven runs short of the highest score by a Bangladeshi in ODIs, however it was still not enough. Friday's final 50-over match is followed by three T20Is in the final week of the year.

Stumps - Festive Tests

This will be the last edition of Cricket Corner for the year but don’t worry, it will return next year! And, in the meantime, there’s plenty of cricket going on to keep you entertained - maybe even too much to fit into a weekly roundup as I'm fast finding out.

After smashing Pakistan in the first encounter, Australia next welcome their guests to Melbourne's colossal MCG for the annual Boxing Day Test. It’s always an occasion at the ‘G but neutrals and fans alike will be wanting to see a closer match than in Perth's series opener. With David Warner having already silenced his critics and Nathan Lyon joining the 500-wicket club, the major storylines are out of the way. The only thing left is the actual cricket!

Speaking of Boxing Day Tests, South Africa will be doing their own version, too. They take on India in the first of two Tests in Centurion. One of the biggest issues for South Africa in recent years has been getting their best players together regularly. Their tour of New Zealand in February could be a sad example of this problem as it coincides with their T20 franchise league (SA20).

However, the approaching series with India promises much better things. Temba Bavuma returns after sitting out the white-ball legs to lead a side boasting Kagiso Rabada, Marco Jansen and Aiden Markram. On home soil, with their best players, the Proteas are a match for anyone and this could be a cracker.

India will be boosted by the returns of skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, but keep an eye on Yashasvi Jaiswal - the 21-year-old opener came into the side on their last red-ball mission (in the West Indies) and has an average of 89 after three innings. That won't last forever but he looks special. The second Test will start on January 3rd in Cape Town. Until then, happy holidays!



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