Rs 59.50 crore was spent on 87 players in the historic inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) auction on 13 February – of which, 30 are overseas stars. Whilst not the entirety, the performances of the overseas players will indisputably play a significant role in determining the fate of the teams, come March.
In this article, we will analyse which did a commendable job in assembling a formidable overseas line-up:
Everyone Got the Memo, but Only DC Read It
Before we enter the specifics, that is, which team bought which foreigners, and what they have done in the international arena, allow us to first explain why Delhi Capitals will be in an advantageous position as compared to the other four teams.
Unlike the IPL, every team in the WPL will be allowed to field a maximum of five foreigners in the playing XI, albeit whilst adhering to one condition – the fifth foreigner must be from an associate nation.
Delhi Capitals are the only franchise that will enjoy this luxury, having roped in United States of America’s Tara Norris.
Norris is a left-arm medium pacer who, besides representing the USA in international cricket, has also played in England’s The Hundred Women. England is where she plays domestic cricket as well, and ahead of the auction, she scalped three 3-wicket hauls in six matches.
Barring Norris, DC’s other five foreigners are Meg Lanning, Marizanne Kapp, Alice Capsey, Jess Jonassen and Laura Harris.
Lanning’s batting abilities are well documented, but another trait she will bring to the table for the Capitals, which could make her an invaluable addition, is her leadership skill. A natural commander, the Australian skipper could head the think tank of a franchise that does not otherwise feature many veterans.
Lanning’s country-mate, Jess Jonassen adds depth to the team’s bowling department. In the two Yadavs, Radha and Poonam, Delhi have a reliable left-arm orthodox spinner, and a wily leggie, respectively. In Jonassen, another left-arm spinner with 432 T20I runs to add to her appeal, the team could form an exciting spin trio.
Whilst the auction was taking place in Mumbai, Alice Capsey was receiving her player of the match award in South Africa, for scoring a 22-ball 51 in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. Still only 18 years of age, she is proving to be an indispensable part of an English team that is incredibly difficult to break into. As a back-up batting option, DC will also have Laura Harris – another Australian with experience on her side.
For the last piece of the jigsaw, the Capitals have got Marizanne Kapp to cover all bases. The South African all-rounder can bat wherever she is asked to, and can bowl at any given stage of the innings.
Flamboyance – RCB's USP Since 2008
If the Capitals’ squad is about pragmatism, another team to have built a formidable overseas core, Royal Challengers Bangalore are all about flamboyance. As they did with the likes of AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle in IPL, the Challengers have stacked their team with superstars, none more deserving for the tag than the iconic Ellyse Perry.
The Australian all-rounder was a steal at Rs 1.70 crore – 1515 runs and 120 wickets in T20Is will testify to the claim. She, however, was not the only overseas all-rounder to have been roped in by RCB.
New Zealand’s Sophie Devine and England’s Heather Knight share similarities with Perry – all three of them have played over 90 T20I matches, and despite being at the dusk of their careers, are showing no signs of any potential drop-off.
As the fourth all-round option, Smriti Mandhana’s team will also feature Dane Van Niekerk. The last few weeks have been, at the very least, tumultuous for the 29-year-old. From getting the axe from the T20 World Cup squad owing to a failed fitness test, to joining the commentary panel of the same competition, and now getting a WPL contract – Van Niekerk might feel life has come full circle for her.
The fitness diagnosis does not change the fact that Van Niekerk can outfox any batter with her leg-spin. Just like Erin Burns, another RCB acquisition, can do with her off-spin. The 34-year-old could work in tandem with the South African.
Completing the set for RCB is Megan Schutt – a pacer with a T20I hat-trick against India where, coincidentally, Mandhana was her first wicket. A proud owner of 116 wickets in this format, Schutt could form an intimidating pair alongside India’s Renuka Singh.
MI Stack Team With All-Rounders
Mumbai Indians tried to pack their squad with players who can contribute across all domains, and they did a good job at that, with all of their foreigners being all-rounders. Yet, given that their Indian core is not the best of the lot, they could have done with a specialist batter or a bowler.
In Nat Sciver-Brunt, Hayley Matthews and Amelia Kerr, Harmanpreet Kaur will have three players she could entrust with any responsibility, and chances are, they will get it done.
Having said that, a lot will depend on the performance of their other three overseas players – Chloe Tryon, Heather Graham and Isabelle Wong.
South Africa's Tryon does not boast of exceptional career T20I numbers, though she picked up form just before the auction. Australia's Heather Graham and England's Isabelle Wong have done well in franchise competitions, but lack international experience, with a combined 12 T20I appearances between the duo.
A Lot Needs to Work Out Well for the Newbies
Gujarat Giants and UP Warriorz, the two non-IPL teams in this competition, did not make it blatantly evident that they are new to the auction dynamics, yet we will rank their overseas squads a tad beneath that of DC and RCB.
A complete contrast to MI, UP Warriorz tried to have an even spread of foreigners across departments – they have a wicketkeeper-batter in Australia’s Alyssa Healy, two pacers in Shabnim Ismail and Lauren Bell, and three all-rounders in Sophie Ecclestone, Tahlia McGrath and Grace Harris.
Ismail, once a trailblazer for South Africa, is now 34 years of age, with her recent performances not being particularly appealing. Bell, at the opposite end of the age spectrum, started her international career very recently.
A lot of their success will rely on Sophie Ecclestone and Tahlia McGrath, who have been among the most consistent performers in T20I cricket over the recent past.
Coached by former Australian cricketer Rachael Haynes, the Giants picked four players from the baggy greens – all-rounders Ashleigh Gardner, Georgia Wareham and Annabel Sutherland; and wicketkeeper-batter Beth Mooney.
While Gardner and Mooney are proven match-winners, Sutherland and Wareham, despite the talent they bring to the fore, are not as experienced in international cricket.
Deandra Dottin, a pace-bowling all-rounder, retired from international cricket a year ago, though her experience will certainly come in handy. The Giants’ last piece in the overseas jigsaw, Sophia Dunkley is an English opener, who had a slow start to her T20I career but is now ascending to the top echelons.