AFP/ New Delhi
England’s Ben Stokes, Australia’s Mitchell Starc and veteran West Indies big-hitter Chris Gayle are among the stars missing from the upcoming auction for the Indian Premier League, media reports said yesterday.
More than 1,200 cricketers from India and 18 countries across the world have registered to go under the hammer in Bangalore on February 12 and 13 for the 15th edition of the world’s most lucrative cricket tournament.
Other notable absentees from the long list of players in the bidding pool for the IPL – expected to begin in April depending on the Covid situation in India – are the English trio of Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran, the reports said.
Stokes and Woakes both participated in England’s recent disastrous Ashes tour of Australia.
Captain Joe Root – who has never played in the IPL – is also sitting out the auction although fast bowler Mark Wood is on the list along with Australian stars David Warner and Pat Cummins, the reports said.
Ten teams will bid and participate in this year’s IPL after the addition of two new franchises, Ahmedabad and Lucknow. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) yesterday discussed logistics and the emerging Covid situation with IPL franchise owners before announcing that its showcase tournament will start in the last week of March and run until the end of May.
With Covid cases rising in India, the BCCI hadn’t yet confirmed a timeline for IPL’s latest edition.
“I am delighted to confirm that the 15th season of the IPL will start in the last week of March and will run until May end,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a statement released yesterday.
“A majority of the team owners expressed their wish that the tournament be held in India. The BCCI was always keen on staging the 2022 edition that will see two new teams – Ahmedabad and Lucknow – in India. I can tell you that we will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that IPL stays in India.
“The BCCI has not compromised on the health and safety of its stakeholders in the past and will concurrently work on Plan B since the Covid-19 situation with new variants remains fluid. The mega IPL Auction will take place on February 12-13th and we will lock in venues before that.”
IPL’s last edition began in India but was suspended in May 2021 as cases soared and was completed later in the year in the United Arab Emirates, with Chennai Super Kings emerging as champions.
India’s opening batter KL Rahul will captain Lucknow after he was signed as the joint-highest-paid player, for Rs170mn ($2.3mn), in the history of the tournament.
Former Indian captain Virat Kohli was signed for the same amount in 2018 by the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise.
“I have been very impressed by KL’s not only batting and wicketkeeping abilities, but his leadership skills,” Lucknow team owner Sanjiv Goenka told Star Sports.
Ahmedabad, which was purchased by global private equity giants CVC capital, announced Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya as the new team’s skipper.
The franchise also signed Afghanistan’s star leg-spinner Rashid Khan for Rs150mn ($2.1mn) and young Indian batter Shubman Gill for Rs80mn.
Gary Kirsten, former South African batter and mentor for the Ahmedabad franchise, said that it was an opportunity for Hardik as “a young and new captain”.
“I think he will be really motivated to come in and make a plan and show what he is capable of at this level of the game as a leader,” Kirsten said yesterday.
Indian cricket board in a statement yesterday said that it was limiting the upcoming home series against West Indies “to two venues instead of six originally announced.”
It “has been done to mitigate biosecurity risks by cutting down on travel and movement of the teams, match officials, broadcasters, and other stakeholders,” the BCCI said.
West Indies will now play three ODIs – on February 6, February 9 and February 11 – against the hosts in western India’s Ahmedabad city before travelling to eastern Kolkata for three T20s on February 16th, 18th and 20th.
The white-ball series was originally intended to be played across six venues, including the Indian cities of Jaipur, Visakhapatnam, Cuttack and Thiruvananthapuram, but will now be hosted entirely in Ahmedabad (ODI) and Kolkata (T20).
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