Around the time Glenn Maxwell became the latest entrant in the exclusive IPL millionaire’s club last year, Craig Simmons was busy fixing power lines as an apprentice lineworker for Western Power in Perth. His cricket was limited to a few stray club games and at 30, with burly and unfit commonly used to describe him, a return to domestic cricket looked increasingly bleak.
Ben Dunk and Cameron Gannon, meanwhile, too were contemplating their respective cricketing futures. Having been dumped by Queensland, selling bananas at his family farm in Innisfail was emerging as an imminent career option for Dunk. Gannon on the other hand had been suspended from bowling for a suspect action the previous season and left to wonder whether he would ever bowl in a competitive match again.
Back then, the IPL was an El Dorado so distant that the three Australians couldn’t have even imagined being a part of it. Incredibly in a turnaround of T20 proportions, the motley trio could well be in line for their own Cindrella moment when the IPL franchises head for the 2014 auction over the next two days in Bangalore.
Corey Anderson, Kevin Pietersen, Aaron Finch and the likes will be expected to be the marquee names setting off bidding wars among the eight teams vying for their services.
But it is the electrician, the son of a banana farmer and a lanky pacer enjoying his second lease of life, all three with a base price of Rs 30,00,000, who will go into the auction with the potential of being the surprise picks this time around. And for good reason.
While opener Dunk was named the player of the tournament in the recently concluded Big Bash League (BBL), Simmons was the real batting sensation scoring two centuries, including one off just 39 balls. In all, Dunk totalled 395 runs for finalists Hobart Hurricanes at 43.88 with a strike-rate of 145.75. Simmons’ 278 runs for Perth Scorchers came at a even more rapid rate of 165.47 with his 112 in the semifinal knocking out favourites Melbourne Stars.
Though most of their runs did come against the fast bowlers on bouncy wickets in Australia, both left-handers could well break into any of the lower-ranked franchises, who have abstained from major retentions.
Gannon on the other hand should be in greater demand. Tall Australian pacers have always attracted attention at IPL auctions. Last year, the likes of Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson were picked up for plenty—the latter in fact for seven times his base price. And at 200 cm, 25-year-old Gannon is arguably the tallest pacer from Down Under to have entered the IPL auction ever.
Richardson incidentally was bought by the now defunct Pune Warriors for a whopping continued…