Perfect timing has always come naturally to the Big Bash’s latest sensation, Hobart’s whirlwind opener D’Arcy Short.
But never more so than this season – his 406 runs including Wednesday’s record 122 not out against Brisbane have come just two weeks before the richest IPL auction in history.
Never has so much money been available to splurge on an auction in the history of Twenty20 cricket, and Short’s timely heroics this year are set to make him an instant millionaire.
Star India paid approximately $3.2b last year for IPL TV rights over the next five years, and each franchise in this year’s auction will have an increased salary cap of almost $16m to play with.
Only 18 players across the competition have been retained by their franchises this year which has thrown the majority of talent back into the player pool, and a feeding frenzy is expected across the January 27-28 auction.
The Big Bash has been dubbed a shop window to the IPL, and Short is the most prominent commodity available for the eight IPL franchises looking to invest their newly distributed television income.
“The timing of it, the fact that there’s so many guys involved with BBL clubs who are also involved with IPL teams makes it a bit of a hub for talent identification,” Short’s manager Trent Ovens said.
Yet for all of the BBL’s glitz and glamour, stellar crowds and ratings success, there will probably only be a handful of millionaire success stories for n cricketers at the January 27-28 IPL auction.
Only the truly extraordinary are likely to garner seven-figure interest.
As successful as the Big Bash is on n shores, it doesn’t register major waves with the Indian general public given its lack of exposure in the world’s most heaving cricket nation.
IPL franchises are certainly aware of the BBL and scout it accordingly, especially given the n coaching links which include Ricky Ponting at the Delhi Daredevils and Tom Moody at Sunrisers Hyderabad,
However the n competition is still only one of myriad options available to them for fleshing out their IPL rosters.
Each IPL franchise can sign up to eight overseas players, with a maximum for four allowed to be named in a starting XI. That’s a fair whack of talent already given a large percentage of those are internationally capper, the majority of which don’t play in the BBL.
Indian superstars and retained players always make up a hefty portion of the salary cap, such as David Warner (Sunrisers) and Steve Smith (Rajasthan Royals) who will be paid more than $2m by their franchises this year making them ‘s biggest ever earners in a single IPL season.
A host of Indian domestic players proven in subcontinent conditions will also be snapped up, particularly batsmen and spin bowlers, by which stage roster space starts to get a little thin.
“Essentially they’re looking for back-up players, whether that’s spinners or all rounders and that comes down to the calibre of the Indians in the team and where the gaps are in the skill set and what they’re looking for,” Warner’s manager Tony Connelly said.
“All rounders are more valuable. Three skills are hugely important, if you come into a team and you can bat and bowl and you’re a good fielder, that’s a good starting point.
“It’s really about flexibility and versatility and a skill set that fits within the team.”
Working in Short’s favour is his dinky left-arm orthodox bowling and brilliance in the field, to go with his explosive batting ability.
Another prototype IPL player who always attracts plenty of interest in the IPL auction is Glenn Maxwell – he hits a huge ball, bowls off spin and is one of the world’s best fieldsman. Expect him to be one of a small handful of BBL players fetching well over a million dollars this year.
Fast bowlers are also highly sought after, given it’s one area of Indian cricket that has never been as dominant as batting or spin.
Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile are two examples of ns who have made a name for themselves in India. Cummins in particular doubles as a handy lower-order bat, giving him an advantage over many of his rivals.
“The quicks are a key factor to it – if a fast bowler’s going to bat, they’re going to bat between four and eight balls and they’ve got to be able to get 20 runs,” Cummins’ manager Neil Maxwell said.
“People didn’t know how to play Twenty20 eight or nine years ago and they’re learning a lot about it.
“The T20 game is getting broken down into segments really. You need players for each phase of the innings, whether that be batting or bowling.”
For all that is expected to happen at the IPL auction, it will no doubt throw up a few surprises – like it did last year when English quick Tymal Mills fetched a whopping $2.3m from Royal Challengers Bangalore.
He has since signed a two-year BBL deal with the Hobart Hurricanes and will be trying his hand again at the IPL auction later this month.
“Last year and it went really well for me, I’m not expecting to go that well again, that was a bit of a freak incident,” Mills said
“I’ve definitely got unfinished business in the IPL so hopefully I can get picked up and go there and do well for a side out there.
“This [the BBL] is the big shop window before it. Last year I was playing for England in India versus India in the T20 series which was my shop window.”