Sunday's Indian Premier League auctions in Chennai have evoked mixed reactions in the world of social media. While Mumbai Indians' million-dollar signing Glenn Maxwell grabbed the spotlight for both good and bad reasons, the 'favourites' who missed out on the big bucks also got their share of publicity.
If Australian Aaron Finch, he was the top player in the T20 Big Bash in Australia recently, was surprisingly ignored by the franchises, Ravi Bopara, Matt Prior and Kevin O'Brien's failure to evince interest was one of the talking points of the auction where 11.89 million dollars were spent on 37 players!
For the second successive year, Bopara, Prior and O'Brien went unsold in the auctions. Their inability to play a full IPL season due to restrictions in their central contracts with the English Board seems to be a major disadvantage. Bopara had a base price of 100,000 USD while Prior was exactly double!
That leaves only three Englishmen in the IPL mix so far. Kevin Pietersen is signed up with Delhi Daredevils while Eoin Morgan and Owais Shah are with Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals, respectively.
KP was the first to express his surprise when Bopara went unsold in the auctions. The maverick allrounder (@kevinpp24) tweeted: "How Ravi Bopara didn't get picked up in the IPL auction is beyond me! Bowls/bats/fields & a top team man! Maybe he will get in somehow... "
Bopara played for King's XI Punjab in the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He had a batting average of 29.69 from 14 innings. The 27-year-old recently turned out for Chittagong Kings in the Bangladesh Premier League. He managed all of 101 in seven matches at 16.83 and picked only four wickets in conditions similar to India. Bopara's poor performance clearly betrays KP's certificate!
Like several top England players, Bopara is caught between country and IPL. After being advised by England's batting coach Graham Gooch, Bopara wanted to focus on his international career. He scored 0 and 22 in his last Test match that England lost by an innings to South Africa at The Oval in July. Bopara was picked for the world T20, but played only one match.
"I want to get back into the team, that's the most important thing. But there are a lot of things I want to do as well," Bopara had told BBC Essex in an interview. But his topsy-turvy international form put his plans on tenterhooks.
"You can't bank on being selected ever. You can't just think 'these are my plans for the summer' because things change. I want to play some T20 cricket around the world and make the most of my time and talent.
"We've got a short career and we've got to make the most of our careers. Playing for England is brilliant. If you can play international cricket for the best part of eight to 10 years that's brilliant. But that's difficult to do and there are opportunities around the world we must take advantage of," Bopara said.
Bopara can still join the IPL party. He could come in as a substitute like Aussie pacer Ben Cutting did in place of an injured Stuart Broad for King's XI Punjab last year.
Former Hampshire batsman and upcoming Australian all-rounder Maxwell fetched the highest bid of a million dollars (Rs 5.3 crore). Maxwell's price was substantially lower than the top sale achieved last year - Ravindra Jadeja was sold to Chennai for 2 million dollars. IPL history has proved that top earners do not always become the best players!
Maxwell celebrated his sale with a blob during Australia's one-day match against West Indies on Sunday. Cricket columnist Ayaz Memon (@cricketwallah) tweeted: "In a supreme twist of irony, Glenn Maxwell who made a golden duck against the West Indies is bought for a million USD by Mumbai Indians."
In spite being clobbered for four sixes off four balls, Maxwell did manage four wickets as Australia defeated West Indies by 54 runs! ESPN Cricinfo called him "an expensive millionaire" in one of their tweets (@ESPNcricinfo). Cricket Australia reacted positively on Maxwell's jackpot. @CricketAus tweeted: "Million dollar man may have made a duck, but @Gmaxi_32 will be making the big time in the IPL."
Mumbai Indians will only hope so. The Ambani-powered franchise has been showcasing a blistering 61 off 27 balls by the Victorian in a domestic Ryobi One-Day Cup against Tasmania on February 9, 2011. It was one of the fastest 50s in Australian domestic cricket as Maxwell struck eight fours and three sixes against a quality attack led by Ben Hilfenhaus.
Indians will get a view of Maxwell in a few days from now. Part of the Australian Test squad, Maxwell is part of an advance party being sent by Cricket Australia to acclimatize before the first Test in Chennai from February 22. The Aussies will play their first tour match against the BCCI President's XI in Chennai from February 12.
Maxwell is already turning heads in the Australian media. Ahead of Monday's Allan Border medal ceremony, Maxwell was under the spotlight even as Michael Clarke is set to win Australia's most prestigious cricket honour awarded to the player that gets the most votes from fellow players, officials and journalists over the past 12 months. There are certain things in life that money can buy! Instant fame is one of them! Ask, Glenn Maxwell.