The lucrative Indian Premier League auction will be held over two days this weekend and never before has so much money been available to the eight franchises.
In its 11th season, the player pool will be as extensive as ever, with each side having retained just a handful of stars leading into the auction.
Player movement will be rife and the money being thrown around has the potential to turn cricketers into instant millionaires. Here's all you need to know.
Just how much money are we talking?
The IPL is operating under a new broadcast deal this year. In September it was reported that Star India had bought the rights for the next five seasons at the cost of approximately $3.2 billion. Since then the salary cap has been increased by about 20 per cent meaning IPL franchises will be able to spend up to $16m each on building their 2018 rosters. The key unit of currency to watch out for is the crore, which equates to 10 million Indian rupees or about $200,000. It is by the crore which the value of players who go under the hammer is measured, particularly the superstars fetching the big bucks.
Retained: David Warner playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad. Photo: AP
What do the big guns actually make?
Prior to the auction, each side was able to retain up to three players who played for them last season. These players are therefore unavailable for auction, and their pre-determined salaries will now be subtracted from the team's salary cap. Two Australians have been retained by their franchises for a huge amount - Steve Smith and David Warner. Smith rejoins the Rajasthan Royals, who are back in the IPL this year after serving a two-year suspension. They were granted permission to retain players who were contracted to them in their most recent season, 2015, and splurged 12 crore on Steve Smith, more than $2m. Warner, last season's leading run scorer, remains at Sunrisers Hyderabad for the same price. Incredibly, these aren't record prices for IPL players. Ben Stokes took that crown last year, when he fetched a whopping 14.5 crore, almost $3m. Whether or not that record is toppled this year with the increased franchise purses remains to be seen but, in any event, it's not a bad pay day for less than eight weeks of work. For the record, Kings XI Punjab and Smith's Royals have the most to play with at auction, have retained just one player apiece. They'll take in 67.5 crore.
How does it work?
A staggering 578 cricketers will be up for auction from an original pool of 1122 players. Up to 182 cricketers will be auctioned off, with each team allowed a maximum roster of 25 players. Of that 578 available for purchase, 360 are Indians and 218 are overseas players. Australia has 54 of those, South Africa has 42 while there are 24 each from New Zealand and England. As part of the nomination process, each player must elect a base price, which is effectively a minimum starting bid. The smallest of these is 0.2 crore, while the maximum base price is 2 crore, which 36 players have opted for. The auction begins at 1.30pm Sydney time on Saturday. Each franchise has up to three right-to-match options for players that were on its roster last season, depending on how many players have already been retained. This ensures that each team can retain a maximum of five players who were on its playing list last season. That means a team that still has a right-to-match option available can match the bid made by the opposing franchise, and keep its player for the same price. Any player who goes unsold will be available in a second auction, with their base price cut in half. Of the 25 slots available on a playing list, up to eight can be overseas players, four of each can be picked in a starting XI in each game. Finally, under-19 players can only be selected if they've played first-class or List A cricket.
Who generally does well in the IPL?
Despite the extensive pool of overseas players up for auction, Indian batsmen always fare quite well in the auction. That's because they're proven in the Subcontinent conditions, whereas Australian Big Bash stars quite often have never played in India. Batting success in the Big Bash, something of a shop window for the IPL given its timing in the lead-up to the auction, doesn't always turn into IPL auction success. This can be seen in the base prices in the auction player pool. Mr BBL 07 D'Arcy Short has nominated for the minimum base price, while the BBL's second highest run scorer, Alex Carey, is in for just 0.3 crore.
Value for money: D'Arcy Short. Photo: AAP
It's the international all-rounders and fast bowlers who historically have far more success. While India is a production line for batting superstars, they're nowhere near as prolific when it comes to churning out fast bowlers, so the likes of Pat Cummins, and Tymal Mills, to name a couple, have fetched decent money before. By that reasoning, West Indian Jofra Archer, who has been brilliant for Hobart this season, could be set for a nice earn. IPL franchises traditionally look to the Subcontinent for their spin bowlers, given their experience in the conditions, while big-name all rounders such as Stokes, Glenn Maxwell, Andre Russell always fetch a pretty penny.
Which Australians should we expect to do well?
Having said all that, it'd be a surprise if Short wasn't picked up this year, and for a decent price too. His explosive BBL batting would have caught the eye of all eight IPL franchises, as would those handy wrist spinners he bowls and his dynamism in the field. He's the perfect example of someone who could become an IPL millionaire overnight. Maxwell always does well, and he's proven in the conditions, as is Shane Watson. Andrew Tye took a hat-trick in the IPL last season, which won't be forgotten about in a hurry, while Marcus Stoinis is the kind of player you could almost build a T20 franchise around. James Faulkner is an interesting one - he's in for the maximum of 2 crore but has been well below his best during this season's Big Bash. Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff are all nominated and provide the kind of pace that IPL franchises could be looking for. There could be a huge West Australian presence in the tournament this year.