Rs 60 crores on a maximum of 90 players – this is what the math looks for 13 February, which could go down in history as the date to have changed women’s cricket as we now know it. For, in Mumbai’s World Convention Centre, the representatives of five Women’s Premier League (WPL) franchises will gather for the inaugural auction, hoping to assemble a squad worthy enough to lift the title a month later.
Before that, we take a look at the ten players who can spark bidding wars:
1. Harmanpreet Kaur (Base Price: Rs 50 Lakh)
As Richard Madlee struck his hammer on the table, announcing that Mahendra Singh Dhoni had just been sold to Chennai Super Kings for USD 1.5 million, it was certain that the tournament will be a spectacle to behold. Although, perhaps the other seven franchises struggled to comprehend the importance of that spectacular moment – one that made CSK one of the most successful teams in the competition.
A decade and a half down the line, we will see a replication, with the Indian captain going under the hammer for the first, and given the inevitable retention scenarios, perhaps the last time.
Among all the names on this list, Harmanpreet Kaur has the greatest chance of sparking a bidding war which could end in applause and a gigantic figure.
Despite being in her 30s, India’s reliable all-rounder ‘Harry’ is not showing any signs of slowing down. The 2940 runs she has scored in T20Is is a testament to her contributions towards the national team, while if that is not impressive enough in itself, she also has scalped 32 wickets in this format.
2. Smriti Mandhana (Base Price: Rs 50 Lakh)
Barring Kaur, Smriti Mandhana ranks first among the long list of possible captains for the inaugural WPL edition. Call her a pillar in the Indian batting department, call her the clichéd backbone, and even that could be a misapprehension of her crucial role in the side.
Despite being only in her mid-twenties, Mandhana has already scored 2651 runs in the T20I format. An average in excess of 25, coupled with a strike rate north of 120, serves as the perfect amalgamation a franchise would ideally look for in a batter.
3. Deepti Sharma (Base Price: Rs 50 Lakh)
Deepti Sharma is a trailblazer – not because she played for a team with the same name in the Women’s T20 Challenge, but owing to how she has been consistently setting trends for others to discuss, and for the ones willing to, replicate.
In every essence, Deepti belongs to the modern-day bunch of ‘utility’ cricketers, who are usually worth their weight in gold in franchise competitions. 96 wickets in T20Is speak volumes about her efficacy as an off-spinner, while 914 runs at an average of 26.11 prove why she is much more than a pinch-hitter.
4. Ellyse Perry (Base Price: Rs 50 Lakh)
Ellyse Perry made her debut before the first ball of IPL was bowled, and has been an active campaigner for the WPL for a long while. As her dream finally turns into reality, the five franchises are certain to unequivocally harbour the dream of the inspirational Australian all-rounder donning their jersey.
A menacing bowler, an elegant batter and a flawless fielder – Perry does everything so effortlessly, that chances are if there is something she cannot it, it should be made redundant in cricket. Numbers do not merely justify her class, but just for the sake of it – 1475 T20I runs, and 119 T20I wickets.
5. Alyssa Healy (Base Price: Rs 50 Lakh)
Even if you are not a fan of the game, this name will ring a bell. It was at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2019 final where Alyssa Healy broke a billion hearts, as she played a scintillating knock of 75 runs from 39 deliveries to take the game away from the Indians.
That, however, was not all Healy has ever produced in what should be considered an illustrious career, where she has scored 2300 runs in the shortest format, with her strike rate being almost 130. Moreover, her reliable and skilful glovework behind the stumps will only earn her a few extra swings of the paddle on the day of the auction.
6. Amelia Kerr (Base Price: Rs 40 Lakh)
Purely on the basis of age and experience, Amelia Kerr might seem to be a novice in comparison with our two mentions from Australia. Yet, there is nothing novice-esque about the numbers of this 22-year-old prodigious all-rounder from New Zealand.
Having made her T20I debut for the White Ferns barely a month after turning 16, she has taken very little time to bring up both 50+ wickets and 500+ runs. In terms of investing in youth, which will be high on the to-do list of most franchises, signing Kerr is undoubtedly the best possible way of ticking that box.
7. Sophie Devine (Base Price: Rs 50 Lakh)
An all-rounder, hailing from New Zealand – Sophie Devine and Amelia Kerr are similar in this regard, except that the former started her international career a whole decade earlier, and currently, is among the most experienced players in the circuit.
Devine holds the record of scoring the most consecutive half-centuries in T20I cricket – 6, with no other player across both men’s and women’s cricket scoring even five on the trot. She is only 50 runs shy of reaching the milestone of 3000 T20I runs, and has already crossed the milestone of 100 wickets.
8. Marizanne Kapp (Base Price: Rs 40 Lakh)
A player from the same era and with similar traits as Devine, South Africa’s Marizanne Kapp is the only player among our selected ten who was not a part of the Women’s T20 Challenge. Having said that, she has a plethora of franchise T20 experience, having represented the Oval Invincibles in England’s The Hundred Women, and Sydney Sixers in Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League.
Kapp has 67 wickets to her name in this format, which includes one sublime spell of 4/6. Besides that, she also has scored 1120 runs – fitting her into the ‘utility’ bracket.
9. Nat Sciver-Brunt (Base Price: Rs 50 Lakh)
It only seems yesterday that Nat Sciver-Brunt etched her name in history books by becoming the first English cricketer to pick a T20I hat-trick – not because it has been replicated only once in the last decade, but owing to her continued impressive displays for the Three Lions.
The 30-year-old all-rounder is only 31 runs away from reaching the magical 2,000-run figure in the shortest format, while with her medium-pace bowling, she has picked up 78 wickets.
10. Deandra Dottin (Base Price: Rs 50 Lakh)
To have a list of possible big-money buys in an auction of a franchise T20 event, with no mention of any player from the Caribbean, can be considered a travesty. Saving us from committing one is West Indies’ charismatic all-rounder, Deandra Dottin.
Having travelled all over the globe to specifically play this format, and brushed shoulders with many greats of the game, she will bring important insights to the table. That, however, will serve as a secondary USP, with her 2697 runs and 62 wickets being the primary source of bids.