Australia’s Women’s T20 World Cup team are preparing for the tournament in the shadow of the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL), but they say the upcoming auction is not a distraction.
The first WPL competition, which has been modelled on the existing men’s Indian Premier League, will be held from March 4 to March 26.
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There are five franchises who will be bidding for players at the auction in Mumbai on February 13 — Delhi Capitals, Gujarat Giants, Lucknow Warriors, Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Recently retired Australian international Rachael Haynes has been announced as the head coach for the Gujarat Giants.
Reports say close to 1,000 players from around the world have registered to be part of the auction, but just 90 players will get to play.
Each team will have a salary cap of 12 crore ($2.11 million) to pay for a squad of 18 players.
Some of the reserved base prices for players will be 50 lakh ($87,950), 40 lakh ($70,360) and 20 lakh ($35,180), but like in the IPL, star players or T20 specialists could well get one of the biggest paydays of their careers.
Speaking in South Africa, where the Australians are preparing for the T20 World Cup, fast bowler Megan Schutt denied the new competition was a distraction for the team, but acknowledged what it would mean for the players who made it to the WPL.
“We’ve all spoken about it, it’s the elephant in the room a bit, but we’re professionals, we’re here to play cricket and [the auction is] going to happen with or without us [there],” she told ABC Sport.
“So it’s exciting times, and I think for the girls that are selected it’s going to be life-changing, but we’ve got a tournament to win first.”
Up to seven overseas players per team can be from outside India, including one from an Associate nation. Associate nations are countries like the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and Scotland, which are not full members of the ICC.
They are eligible to play T20 internationals and in the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 or ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League (one-day internationals), but not Tests.
Up to five overseas players can be in a starting XI, as long as one is from an Associate nation.
Australia’s first game of the tournament will be against cross-Tasman rivals New Zealand, starting on Saturday February 11 local time, two days before the auction.
By the time their second game comes around three days later, everyone in the squad will know whether their dream of playing in the WPL has come true or not.
Schutt was asked about the Australians carrying the favourites tag on the back of winning the last edition of the T20 World Cup on home soil in 2020 and said it didn’t bother the team.
“I think we’re pretty used to it. We’re told every single tournament the pressure’s on us, everyone’s chasing us, but we’re here to play cricket – I mean we all start [the tournament] on the same amount of points, so it doesn’t really matter,” she said.
“We’ll play our brand of cricket, I think we’ve been playing good cricket lately and [there are] some additions like Midge [Alyssa Healy] and that coming back into the team so hopefully we’ll be a strong unit.”