Mitch Johnson, Glenn Maxwell keep big deals as six Australians above $1m in IPL
Mitch Johnson can discard any notion of needing a Big Bash League cameo to impress IPL scouts, because his team Punjab has elected to maintain their million-dollar deals with him and his countryman Glenn Maxwell.
By New Year's Eve IPL teams had to confirm their preliminary squads for the upcoming season, which required them to decide which players they were keeping under their current contract terms.
Four Australians have kept their million-dollar deals: Johnson and Maxwell at Punjab, David Warner with Hyderabad and Mitch Starc with Bangalore. It brings the overall total to six, given Steve Smith and James Faulkner were last month drafted for 55 million rupees ($1.14 million), respectively by new teams Pune and Rajkot.
For Starc to be cleared by Cricket Australia to play IPL, which begins in April on the back of the World Twenty20, he would have to have proven he has completely recovered from the ankle surgery which will trigger his absence from most of the Australian summer.
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Johnson's decision to retire from all international cricket after the Perth Test would mostly have been considered a positive by IPL teams, because it ensured his availability for the entire tournament and would allow the left-armer to tailor his training to being in peak condition for that two-month period.
He has been retained on the 65 million rupees ($1.34 million) price he fetched at the 2014 auction, and so too has World Cup-winning all-rounder Maxwell on 60 million rupees ($1.24m). Warner kept his 55 million rupees ($1.14m) deal at Hyderabad, where he captained last year, and Starc stayed at Bangalore for 50 million rupees ($1.03 million).
The price players are bought for at the auction is their minimum contract, and the amount that counts towards the team's salary cap. Teams do have the option, however, of paying the player more if they choose to, although this is not disclosed.
The wretched month of Nathan Coulter-Nile, which culminated in him missing out on what was expected to be a Test debut on Boxing Day due to injury, finished on a better note, with Delhi extending his 42.5 million rupees ($879,000) contract.
A total of 10 Australians were retained by their teams for the looming IPL seasons. The others are Shaun Marsh, also at Punjab, for 22 million rupees ($455,000), Chris Lynn at Kolkara for 13 million rupees ($269,000), Moises Henriques at Hyderabad for 10 million rupees ($207,000), Brad Hogg at Kolkata for 5 million rupees ($103,000) and Travis Head at Delhi for 3 million ($62,000).
The latter represented great bargain for Delhi, given what Head went on to produce on New Year's Eve: a brilliant 101 from 53 deliveries, including nine sixes, to drag Adelaide to a Big Bash League victory over Sydney Sixers chasing 177. Had Head been discarded, that innings may have raised interest in him if he re-entered the auction.
The biggest casualty of the re-contracting process was Shane Watson. The suspension of his team, Rajasthan, and also Chennai for two years meant their players were offered to the two new teams, Pune and Rajkot, in a draft.
While Watson's Royals teammates Smith and Faulkner each found a new home in the recent draft, in which new teams Pune and Rajkot could each select five players, Watson will now re-enter the auction, to be held on February 6. Given he was a foundation player at Rajasthan his contract was not disclosed, but it was believed to be well in excess of $1 million.
Australian veteran Mike Hussey was left without a team for the same reason, losing his 15 million rupees ($310,000) deal with Chennai.
Australia limited-overs stalwart George Bailey, who is in great form for the Hobart Hurricanes, was released from his 32.5 million rupees ($671,000) deal with Punjab, as was Twenty20 captain Aaron Finch from his 32 million rupees ($662,000) deal with Ricky Ponting-coached Mumbai.
NSW pacemen Gurinder Sandhu, Sean Abbott, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood were also released from their IPL contracts, giving them the option of nominating for the February 6 auction.
Players have to decide by mid-January if they want to be in the auction.
AUSTRALIANS IN THE IPL
Mitch Johnson (Punjab) - $1.34m
Glenn Maxwell (Punjab) - $1.24m
David Warner (Hyderabad) - $1.14m
Mitch Starc (Bangalore) - $1.03m
Nathan Coulter-Nile (Delhi) - $879,000
Shaun Marsh (Punjab) - $455,000
Chris Lynn (Kolkata) - $269,000
Moises Henriques (Hyderabad) - $207,000
Brad Hogg (Kolkata) - $103,000
Travis Head (Delhi) - $62,000
Steve Smith (Pune) - $1.14m
James Faulkner (Rajkot) - $1.14
Shane Watson (Rajasthan)* - undisclosed
George Bailey (Punjab) - was $671,000
Aaron Finch (Mumbai) - was $662,000
Gurinder Sandhu (Delhi) - was $351,000
Mike Hussey (Chennai)* - was $310,000
Sean Abbott (Bangalore) - was $207,000)
Johan Botha (Kolkata)** - was $207,000
Pat Cummins (Kolkata) - was $207,000
Ben Hilfenhaus (Mumbai) - was $207,000
Kane Richardson (Rajasthan)* - was $207,000
Ben Cutting (Rajasthan)* - was $165,000
Josh Hazlewood (Mumbai) - was $103,000
Nic Maddinson (Bangalore) - was $103,000
Aiden Blizzard (Mumbai) - was $62,000
Marcus Stoinis (Delhi) - was $52,000
Andrew Tye (Chennai)* - was $41,000
* Were not among the 10 players of the suspended teams chosen by replacement teams Pune and Rajkot
** Lives in Australia, and will qualify as a local player next season.
- The Age