No matter that Brian Lara has been out of the cricketing scene for four years and that Rahul Dravid had a so-so IPL3 and Champions League. The two veterans have been placed in the top bracket for the upcoming IPL auction to be held on Jan 8 and 9 at Bangalore. Both Lara and Dravid have been slapped with a reserve price of $400,000 alongside Adam Gilchrist, Anil Kumble, Yuvraj Singh and IPL newcomers Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Graeme Swann, Michael Yardy and Luke Wright. The latter five were all part of England's World Twenty20 winning side.
Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh and Mahela Jayawardene, who formerly played for Kings XI Punjab, crack into the auction at the maximum base price. They will be accompanied by big IPL names such as Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor,Daniel Vettori, Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Chris Gayle.
But guaranteed to raise eye-brows are the names that haven't made it to the 416-strong auction pool. Conspicuous by their absence will be Australia's grandest current players - Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson. Andrew Flintoff, who became the most expensive buy in the IPL along with Kevin Piertersen when Chennai Super Kings snapped him up for $1.55 million for IPL2 has been left out too. Also missing from the 2011 pool is the retired Australian pair of Matthew Hayden and Glenn McGrath, who played in the previous editions of the IPL after quitting the international scene.
Jacques Kallis and Muttiah Muralitharan, who featured significantly for Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai in the first three seasons, find themselves in the $300,000 bracket. Zaheer Khan and Yusuf Pathan are the big Indian names in that list, which also includes Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait, Kumar Sangakkara, and Angelo Mathews.
Sourav Ganguly, who has been Kolkata Knightrider mainstay has been pushed into the third band of players whose base price is $200,000. Gautam Gambhir, who led Delhi in 2010, and the Australian pair of Michael Hussey and Doug Bollinger, who played pivotal roles in Chennai's vsuccessful IPL and Champions League campaigns in 2010, are also in that bracket, along with Dirk Nannes, Eoin Morgan, Robin Uthappa and Sanath Jayasuriya.
Past IPL auctions have shown that base prices don't really determine the final value players are bought at. For example, Ishant Sharma was listed at $150,000 but was bought by the Knightriders at $950,000, while Hayden was listed at $250,000 and was bought by Chennai at $375,000.
The season is set to go ahead with 10 teams and 74 matches as originally planned, since the BCCI is not likely to move the Supreme Court after it lost High Court appeals against the stay orders granted to the termination of Punjab and Rajasthan. All eyes are now on the auction, to see which star players will rake in the most amount of money.