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Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch opt out of IPL auction



Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch have chosen not to enter the IPL auction, keeping in mind Australia’s packed schedule over the first half of 2019 – a home summer followed by a World Cup in England, and then the Ashes series.

England’s Sam Curran, one of the finds of 2018 as an allrounder, has put himself in a group of nine capped players who have listed themselves at the maximum base price of INR 2 crore (USD 278,000 approx). Also among this group is Sri Lanka fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who last season was on the Mumbai Indians coaching staff, playing the role of mentor.

Mawell and Finch were among a host of players released by their franchises in November, having just spent one season with their new teams. Maxwell was released by Delhi Daredevils (now renamed Delhi Capitals), who signed him in January for INR 9 crore (USD 1.4 million approx then). Finch was picked by Kings XI Punjab for INR 6.2 crore (USD 948,000).

Among some of the big names listed in the auction pool are Dale Steyn (base price INR 1.5 crore/USD 208,000 approx), Brendon McCullum, D’Arcy Short, Corey Anderson (all INR 2 crore). Jaydev Unadkat has listed the maximum base price by an Indian player at INR 1.5 crore. Unadkat, the left-arm fast bowler, was the the highest-paid Indian player at the January 2018 auction, with Rajasthan Royals signing him for INR 11.5 crore (USD 1.796 million approx).

Other big-name Indian players that have put themselves back on the auction pool are Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Shami and Axar Patel, all at a base price of INR 1 crore (USD 138,000 approx).

Read: Ins and outs of the IPL trade window

Availability was always going to be the key factor ahead of this auction, scheduled for December 18 in Jaipur. Although the BCCI has not finalised the dates the IPL is likely to run between March 23 and mid-May. The venue, too, has not been finalised because the BCCI is waiting for the dates of India’s general elections. In 2009 and 2014 – the last two seasons that clashed with general elections – the IPL moved to South Africa and the UAE (first half of the season) respectively.

ESPNcricinfo understands the BCCI has decided to wait until mid-January before finalising the venue. The BCCI wants the IPL to take place in India as far as possible but has worked out a back-up plan where the tournament will be displaced overseas with South Africa as a favorite alternate venue.

But the biggest challenge for the franchises next season is that the IPL will end a couple of weeks before the World Cup begins on May 30 in England. The availability of overseas players, as a result, has been the biggest concern for the franchises.

In an email sent to the franchises on Monday, which ESPNcricinfo has accessed, the IPL listed out the cut-off dates for overseas players for all countries. Barring New Zealand and West Indies, all other boards have restricted the availability of their players.

The Australian players will spend the least time in the IPL considering the Sheffield Shield final ends on April 1. Moreover, most of the first-choice Australian players, including Maxwell and Finch, are likely to be in the UAE playing a five-match ODI series against Pakistan. Although the dates have not been announced yet, that series is expected to begin in late March and end in the first half of April. Cricket Australia has set May 2 as the cut-off date for players in their World Cup squad to return for a preparatory camp.

The players in England’s World Cup squad will return home on April 25 for their camp while the rest of the English players can continue in the IPL until May 19. The South African players will need to report for their World Cup camp by May 10, the Sri Lankans by May 6, Bangladesh’s players by April 15 and Ireland’s by April 30. The Afghanistan Cricket Board is yet to finalise a cut-off date.

On Monday, the IPL sent a longlist of 946 players to the eight franchises including 200 capped players, of whom 25 are Indians and three are Associate players. The franchises will need to send the IPL the list of players they want added to the longlist by December 7. By December 10, the franchises will need to send the IPL the list of players they want in the auction pool following which a pruned and final list will be prepared.

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‘As long as he is alive, Hope will play tomorrow’ – Brathwaite



When the best player on tour is injured, the captain and the team management tend to get nervous. Perhaps many captains would think, or even say in private, that they would do anything to ensure that he or she plays the next game. Carlos Brathwaite, West Indies’ T20I captain, said this about Shai Hope, whose back-to-back unbeaten centuries have been the visitors’ only batting beacon in Bangladesh in the past week.

Hope felt dizzy after receiving a blow to the head during Friday’s third ODI in Sylhet, but he trained with the squad on Sunday, ahead of the first T20I.

“Shai [Hope] is in beautiful batting form, fresh off two back-to-back unbeaten centuries,” Brathwaite said. “Even if Shai has to play with a stretcher, I will volunteer to carry the stretcher between the wickets. He is fine and in good spirits. He is out practicing, so hopefully he is close to 100 per cent. As long as he is alive, he will play tomorrow.”

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Brathwaite’s side will further be boosted by the return of Evin Lewis, who missed the India tour and the Bangladesh ODIs. “He is one of the better batsmen in the world. For the last 18 months or so, he has three T20I hundreds and also centuries in regional and franchise cricket all over the world.

“He is a definite plus for any team. It is a positive to have in our side. Hopefully he will deliver some big performances which will help us win the game and the series,” said Brathwaite.

But of course, injuries and unavailability have been a major bother for the West Indies. Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and Jason Holder are injured, while Chris Gayle has been busy with league commitments.

“We have had some informal chats about it. We can’t do much as players if we continue to lose. We don’t have much power or say. The group of players needs to find a way to win, regardless of who is and who is not selected. When we start to win, we can pull on experiences on learning how to win games.

“Evidently you become more experienced and confident, and start creating your own brand of cricket. We haven’t been able to, because of a lot of chopping and changing for different reasons. The feeling in the dressing room is that whenever a team is picked for a tour, we put our heads together as a unit, and find a way to win games. Once we do that, West Indies cricket will find a way to the top, whichever format,” he said.

Brathwaite believes West Indies’ favourite format can get them the much-needed win in this tour, which would also be a bounce back from their wretched year in T20Is. They have won just two out of 12 games in 2018.

“The people back home deserve a Christmas gift,” he said. “We hope to close out the year with a win. We still think T20 is our premier format.

“We obviously haven’t had the results to be in the recent past proud of. But here’s a chance to turn things around and ending 2018 in a good way.”

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Williamson’s fluency allowed me to keep going – Latham



The tempo at which his team-mates – particularly Kane Williamson – built their own innings, helped Tom Latham get through some tough spells, and assisted in his getting to a seventh Test hundred.

Latham went to stumps on 121 off 256 balls – his strike rate a respectable 47 for the day – but had been much slower at the start of his knock. He had been 16 off 86 balls at one stage, and also went through another period – when he was on 50 – in which he did not score a run for 17 balls.

Williamson, meanwhile, made 91 off 93 balls. To the pair’s 162-run second wicket stand, Latham’s contribution was only 67.

“At the start of my innings, I wasn’t playing that quickly, but the way Jeet Raval played and the way Kane came and played – that took the game to the opposition and kept the scoreboard ticking over,” Latham said. “It was good for me. I could just keep going. The most important thing we talk about was making those partnerships big ones, and I managed to get a good one with Kane.

Williamson had signaled his aggressive intentions early, hitting three fours off the first three deliveries he faced. Two of those strokes were especially memorable back-foot punches either side of point, off the bowling of Lahiru Kumara. He would go on to hit 10 fours in his innings, and had little trouble finding gaps in the outfield in between the boundaries.

“Kane came out and hit the ball fantastically well – I guess he’s a world-class player and is hitting the ball unbelievably well in all conditions,” Latham said. “You look at some of the shots he plays – from ball one – those early boundaries set the tempo for his innings and he kept doing that. He’s a fantastic player and one to get a few more tips off. When guys are going like that it’s almost easier to give them the strike and let them do their thing.”

For Latham, this was his first trip to triple figures since January 2017, and breaks a relatively lean spell that goes back at least six innings. In the three Tests in the UAE, Latham mustered only one 50, and averaged 16.5 across the three Tests. Which is why, he said, it was important to start slowly and build from there.

“The slow start was about trying to get them to bowl to me as much as possible. Coming from the UAE where the conditions were a lot different, it was important for me to try and wait to score when the ball was a lot straighter, or when it was shorter or fuller.

“I didn’t have the results I wanted in the UAE, but I felt like I was hitting the ball alright. The biggest thing was the trust in my own game, and the trust that I can do it at this level. It’s been a while since I made a big score, but it was nice that I managed to do that straightaway.”

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Repeat finger blow spells trouble for Aaron Finch



Aaron Finch was taken for x-rays on a possible fractured right index finger on day three of the second Test in Perth. Finch was struck a painful blow in the 13th over of the innings by Mohammed Shami in more or less the same spot where he had twice been struck by Mitchell Starc in net sessions earlier in the summer.

The finger troubles for Finch had begun when Starc hit him on the bottom hand during training for the first ODI of the season, also in Perth against South Africa last month, and the same spot was hit by the same bowler in Australia’s main training session before the first Test in Adelaide, whereupon Finch muttered the words “same finger” before seeking treatment from the team doctor Richard Saw.

After struggling in both innings of the Adelaide Test, Finch scrapped his way to a half-century alongside Marcus Harris on day one of the Perth Test, and having reached 25 not out in the second innings was quickly wringing his right hand after the blow from Shami.

In obvious pain, Finch received extensive treatment on the field before it was decided that he must retire hurt to seek further information on the seriousness of the blow. The umpires then called for tea about a minute earlier than scheduled, and Finch did not resume in the evening session.

It’s not the first time Shami has inconvenienced an Australian batsman this series, having also struck Tim Paine on the right index finger in the second innings in Adelaide and duly creating a wave of concerns given the captain’s long history of troubles with the digit.

More to follow…

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