Women's cricketers hit jackpot during WPL 2023 player auction

India opener Smriti Mandhana receives highest bid of $415,000

India's Smriti Mandhana is the most expensive player at the Women's Premier League after being signed by Bangalore. Reuters
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India opener Smriti Mandhana, England all-rounder Nat Sciver-Brunt and Australia's Ashleigh Gardner struck it rich in Monday's player auction for the inaugural Women's Premier League next month.

Nearly 450 players went under the hammer and several of them experienced the biggest payday of their career after five franchises entered the auction with a team purse of 120 million Indian rupees ($1.45m) each.

The auction began with a bang as Bangalore splurged 34m Indian rupees ($415,000) – over a quarter of their purse – to sign left-handed batter Mandhana.

The 26-year-old was expected to get the biggest bid as she is the premier batter in the country.

Sciver-Brunt joined Mumbai Indians, coached by former England captain Charlotte Edwards, for 32m rupees ($390,000), which is 10 times more the highest salary in the women's Hundred run by the England board.

She became the league's most expensive overseas player along with Gardner, currently the top-ranked T20 all-rounder, who joined Gujarat Giants for the same amount.

Delhi Capitals signed Australia captain Meg Lanning for 11m rupees ($134,000). Bangalore put together an impressive line-up, signing Australia all-rounder Ellyse Perry, India wicketkeeper-batter Richa Ghosh and New Zealand captain Sophie Devine.

"It's a dream result for us to get Mandhana, Perry and Devine," Mike Hesson, RCB's director of cricket, told reporters.

"Smriti has got plenty of captaincy experience and is familiar with the Indian conditions so highly likely she'll be captain."

Mumbai Indians signed India captain Harmanpreet Kaur for 18m rupees ($220,000) and immediately put her in charge of the side.

"It is a game-changer for all of us," Kaur said of the auction in a video from the ongoing T20 World Cup in South Africa.

"This will entirely change women's cricket not just in India. We all are looking forward to that."

The five-team WPL, three of them owned by Indian Premier League franchises, will be played between March 4 to 26 in two venues in and around Mumbai.

There were four UAE players in the auction list. But only fast bowler Mahika Gaur came up for bid. The Gujarat franchise attempted to sign her but had exhausted their quota of overseas players.

Updated: February 13, 2023, 4:23 PM