WPL auction: Uncapped Kashvee, Vrinda hot picks
The all-rounders fetch ₹2 crore and ₹1.3 crore respectively to highlight Indian talent while Aussie Anne Sutherland too goes for ₹2 crore in the player auction
The inaugural edition of Women’s Premier League had set the ball rolling with bumper contracts for the cream of Indian women’s cricket. Saturday’s mini auction brought cheer for uncapped Indian players, in particular all-rounders Kashvee Gautam and Vrinda Dinesh who attracted bids of ₹2 crore (Gujarat Giants) and ₹1.3 crore (UP Warriorz) respectively.
The other top buy was Australian all-rounder Annabel Sutherland who became the joint-most expensive player with Kashvee, bagging a ₹2 crore Delhi Capitals contract. Scotland pace-bowling all-rounder Kathryn Bryce was the only Associate nation player to be picked up, by GG at her base price of ₹10 lakh. A total of ₹12.75 crore was spent on 30 players at the auction room in Mumbai.
Except for GG and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), the other three teams approached this auction only to further strengthen their squads. Last year’s winners Mumbai Indians and runners-up DC had come to the auction with a limited purse.
“We had a balanced squad anyway. So, if we wanted to pay big we wanted someone who is start of playing eleven,” said DC head coach Jonathan Batty on going big after Sutherland. “Annabel is also a multi-skilled player. We know she can bat anywhere from 3-7. She bowls in all phases. We rate her as one of the most improved cricketers in the last 24 months.”
DC played it smart by releasing US pacer Tara Norris, utilising this year’s additional ₹1.5 crore purse to fill that one overseas player slot they were looking to add by outbidding competition to secure the services of the 22-year-old Annabel, daughter of former Australian cricket board CEO, James Sutherland.
ALL-ROUNDERS IN DEMAND
All-rounders were the flavour of the auction, evidence of how they heavily influence results in women’s T20 cricket. That was the rationale behind GG’s heavy bidding for Kashvee. The Chandigarh girl’s ten-wicket haul, including a hat-trick, in a 2020 domestic U-19 match had placed the spotlight on her. Little would she have known she would hit a jackpot in a high-profile home league with the high and mighty owners raising the paddle to secure her services. She can also hit the long ball.
“It was a bit of both. The auction dynamics and also the fact that we were looking for a young all-rounder,” said GG mentor Mithali Raj. “We were looking for someone who we could invest in for the next two years and add value to the team. We don’t want to find ourselves in a situation like now, where we had to release players. Besides, Kashvee brings two skills.”
Like DC, Mumbai Indians knew exactly what they were after. Like in men’s cricket, their scouting system came to the fore. Haryana left-arm spinner Amandeep Kaur is one of the few left-arm wrist-spinners in the domestic circuit and was tracked down by MI scouts. “I only saw her recently in the trials. Our scouts had spoken highly of her. We expected more teams to be interested and there to be bidding. There wasn’t and we were able to get her at the base price,” said MI head coach Charlotte Edwards.
MI’s big buy was experienced South African pacer Shabnim Ismail, who bagged a ₹1.2 crore deal as a back-up to Issy Wong.
UPW went all out chasing Vrinda’s big-hitting prowess, beating competition from two other bidders. At 22, Vrinda has already broken through the ranks of India A. She also bowls leg-spin.
RCB, who had a forgettable first edition, went for an overhaul releasing seven players. They choose not to engage in heavy bidding wars. Instead, they went after players who everyone was not necessarily after but would fit into their plans. Like left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht, an experienced India international whose strong suit on paper may not be T20 cricket but was roped in for ₹60 lakh. Similarly, Australia leg spinner Georgia Wareham was picked up at her base price of ₹40 lakh. England seamer Kate Cross too came cheap at ₹30 lakh. She may come in as a straight swap for Megan Schutt.
“It was a tough tournament last season for RCB and you’ll see from the overseas released list that we were looking at some different options in our bowling attack for this season. So, that’s been core to our plans - how we can structure that up with a combination of pace and spin,” said RCB head coach Luke Williams.
IN-FORM CHAMARI UNSOLD
The big surprise was Sri Lankan batting all-rounder Chamari Athapaththu finding no takers for the second auction in a row. The left-hander had scored heavily in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) as well as international cricket in 2023. Three teams having only one vacant overseas slot may have gone against her.
“I do feel sad for her. It’s down to the requirement of the team. Chamari was potentially in our plans. But she doesn’t bowl. So, she brings only one skill. Many other teams by the first season had got their overseas set fixed,” said Raj.
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