‘Can’t believe this’: Clarke fumes at snub
Pace duo Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith became Australia's newest millionaires on Thursday evening, securing seven-figure sums in the illustrious Indian Premier League auction.
The Kings XI Punjab dished out AU$2.48 million for Richardson and AU$1.4 million for Meredith, putting the young guns among the highest-paid athletes in the competition's history.
But a worrying trend emerged from this year's auction, with several of Australia's most respected batsmen ignored by the Indian franchises.
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Steve Smith copped a mammoth pay cut after nobody elected to outbid Ricky Ponting's Delhi Capitals at AU$390,000.
Meanwhile, Australian one-day captain Aaron Finch was ignored altogether, going unsold following an underwhelming summer with the bat.
"Obviously pretty surprised a lot of Aussie players didn't get picked up, especially guys like Finchy who is one of the best T20 batters in the world." Meredith told reporters on Friday afternoon.
Although Finch's absence may bemuse some cricket fans, a quick glance at his recent T20 form validates the snub.
The Melbourne Renegades captain mustered just 179 runs in 13 innings in this summer's Big Bash League, failing to pass 40 once in the two-month tournament.
Finch's batting was also woeful during last year's IPL, when the Royal Challengers Bangalore brutally axed the 34-year-old veteran for Australian youngster Josh Philippe towards the end of the tournament.
"Are the Australian selectors wrong in Aaron Finch being our Twenty20 captain or is every IPL franchise wrong?" former Australian captain Michael Clarke asked on Sky Sports' Big Sports Breakfast.
"I can't believe this. The Australian Twenty20 captain has not been bought. Someone is wrong.
"In no sport on the planet can you captain Australia and miss out on a tournament with a truckload of teams. Don't tell me Aaron Finch is not good enough to be a part of one of those IPL teams.
"I cannot believe Finchy hasn't been picked up. Even for Finchy, that's got to hurt as the Australian T20 captain. I think he's still, definitely at the top of the order, one of the best in the world."
Big Bash superstars Marnus Labuschagne, Ben McDermott and Matthew Wade also went unsold in Thursday's bidding war.
The IPL clubs seemed more willing to empty their pockets for all-rounders and pace bowlers this year, presumably because India is already stacked with talented batsmen and spinners.
New Zealand all-rounder Kyle Jamieson, for example, fetched a handsome sum of AU$2.66 million, while the Rajasthan Royals paid AU$2.87 million for South Africa all-rounder Chris Morris.
However, the next generation of Australian cricketers may look at Thursday's auction and decide they're more likely to find success in the sport if they focus on bowling.
"There was a bit of talk before the auction about fast bowlers being a bit in demand this year," Meredith said.
"Obviously it was a good time to not to be allocated to a franchise. Probably pretty lucky, a bit of right place, right time."
Richardson caught the attention of Indian cricket fans in January 2019 when he removed superstar batsman Virat Kohli three times in a one-day international series.
Just as the West Australian looked destined for a World Cup and Ashes campaign later that year, he suffered a shoulder injury which kept him on the sidelines for several months.
But the 24-year-old returned to the headlines by becoming the Big Bash League's highest wicket-taker this summer, claiming 29 scalps in 17 matches for the Perth Scorchers.
The timing was impeccable - the BBL has been the only major T20 tournament to take place since last year's IPL.
Punjab managed to fend off their bidding rivals on Thursday, desperate to secure a replacement for departing West Indies paceman Sheldon Cottrell.
And rounding out their formidable bowling attack is Meredith, who this week became the most expensive uncapped overseas player in the competition's history.
Although the Tasmanian is yet to make his international debut, he boasts an impressive bowling record in the game's shortest format.
The 24-year-old's strike rate of 17.5 sits among the sport's most elite, and he has recorded deliveries in excess of 150km/h.
Richardson's consistency and Meredith's raw aggression make them the ideal pairing to join Indian seamer Mohammad Shami at the Kings XI Punjab.
AUSSIES SOLD AT AUCTION
Steve Smith - Delhi Capitals - $390,000
Glenn Maxwell - Royal Challengers Bangalore - $2.5 million
Jhye Richardson - Kings XI Punjab - $2.48 million
Nathan Coulter-Nile - Mumbai Indians - $885,000
Riley Meredith - Kings XI Punjab - $1.4 million
Dan Christian - Royal Challengers Bangalore - $850,000
Moises Henriques - Kings XI Punjab - $744,000
Ben Cutting - Kolkata Knight Riders - $133,000
Aaron Finch, Alex Carey, Shaun Marsh, Ben Cutting, Marnus Labuschagne, Billy Stanlake, Jason Behrendorff, Ben Dwarshuis, Ben McDermott, Matthew Wade, Sean Abbott, Josh Inglis, Chris Green, Jack Wildermuth
AUSSIES ALREADY IN IPL
Josh Hazlewood - Chennai Super Kings
Marcus Stoinis - Delhi Capitals
Daniel Sams - Delhi Capitals (traded to RCB)
Pat Cummins - Kolkata Knight Riders
Chris Lynn - Mumbai Indians
Andrew Tye - Rajasthan Royals
Josh Philippe - Royal Challengers Bangalore
Adam Zampa - Royal Challengers Bangalore
Kane Richardson - Royal Challengers Bangalore
David Warner - Sunrisers Hyderabad
Mitch Marsh - Sunrisers Hyderabad
Originally published as 'Can't believe this': Clarke fumes at snub