3 overseas stars who might go unsold at IPL 2024 auction ft. Steve Smith

Couple of aging superstars might not find any buyers during the auction
Couple of aging superstars might not find any buyers during the auction

Some of the biggest names from domestic and international cricket will go under the hammer in the IPL 2024 mini-auction in Dubai on Tuesday, December 19.

Considering the mega auction being next year, franchises could look to go all-out for in-form players that could yield immediate results rather than long-term investments.

The Hardik Pandya return to the Mumbai Indians, the re-emergence of several star Aussie cricketers, and budding youngsters that shone during the recent World Cup being up for grabs have dominated the off-season so far.

An incredible total of 1166 players registered for the auction, out of which 10 teams have shortlisted 333 names - 214 Indians and 119 overseas - to bid for. A total of 77 slots across the franchises must be filled, with 30 of them reserved for overseas players.

Following the retentions and releases, the Gujarat Titans (GT) have the maximum purse of ₹38.15 crore. The Lucknow Super Giants (LSG), on the other hand, have the lowest purse value of ₹13.15 crore.

While several marquee names from around the globe will be gunning to shatter auction records, there could also be some shockers along the way, with a few star players not attracting bids.

Franchises are particularly selective about overseas signings, with numerous factors like availability, age, and form heavily weighing in.

All that said, here are three overseas stars who might go unsold at the IPL 2024 auction.

#1 Steve Smith

Smith playing in the IPL might be a thing of the past.
Smith playing in the IPL might be a thing of the past.

One of Australia's all-time greats, Steve Smith, might be arguably the biggest name to remain unsold during the IPL 2024 auction.

While Smith's pedigree across formats is unquestioned, several crucial factors are against him in bagging a deal. For starters, the 34-year-old went unsold two years back in the IPL 2022 auction when he was in much better white-ball form compared to the present.

The champion batter also last played in the IPL for the Delhi Capitals (DC) in the 2021 season and made negligible impact with the bat. Smith scored only 152 runs at an average of 25.33 and a strike rate of 112.59 in eight outings.

His form in the shortest format has dwindled further since, with the veteran batter averaging a dismal 21.60 at a strike rate in the low 120s in T20Is since 2022. While he did flash brilliance opening the batting in the Big Bash League (BBL) last year, his white-ball form overall in Indian conditions drastically waned.

Smith is averaging only 31.35 even in ODIs this year and had a disappointing World Cup on Indian conditions despite Australia winning their sixth title.

At 34, the Aussie great is not getting any younger, which reduces his overall value further in T20s. With his base price also being the maximum possible at ₹ 2 Crore, Smith's chances of being picked up at the upcoming auction have a lot of factors working against it.

As years have progressed, strike rates have become even more vital than average, and Smith still striking in the low 120s in the format only adds to the chances of him being unsold.

#2 Tim Southee

Southee has been alarmingly expensive across white-ball formats in 2023.
Southee has been alarmingly expensive across white-ball formats in 2023.

New Zealand pacer Tim Southee has endured a dismal run of form in white-ball cricket over the past year.

Following a reasonable IPL 2022 season, the 35-year-old was central to the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) pace-bowling woes in 2023.

In the two matches played, Southee conceded runs at a shockingly expensive economy rate of over 13. He was among several pacers the franchise released ahead of the auction.

Southee's international form hasn't been much better, with the veteran pacer going at over 8.50 runs in T20Is and over 7.20 in ODIs this year. He recently endured a dismal 2023 World Cup campaign, averaging over 36 at an economy of 7.75 in four matches.

The experienced pacer has lost his penetrative ability with the new ball and has been highly expensive in the end-overs over the past 12 months.

At 35, Southee is also getting up there in age, and with a base price of ₹1.5 crore, it is unlikely the franchises will plunge for the pacer's services.

#3 Jimmy Neesham

Neesham's lack of high-volume runs or wickets could hurt him at the auction.
Neesham's lack of high-volume runs or wickets could hurt him at the auction.

Another New Zealand cricketer who could be unsold at the auction is all-rounder Jimmy Neesham.

While all-rounders are usually priceless in the T20 formats, Neesham's lack of consistency in batting and bowling could lead to his undoing among the franchises.

The 33-year-old was unsold at last year's mini-auction at a base price of ₹2 crore, and he could suffer a similar fate this time around despite a reduced base price of ₹1.5 crore.

When last seen in the IPL, Neesham was part of the Rajasthan Royals squad that made it to the final in 2022 but did not play a single game. His last action on the field in the IPL came for the Mumbai Indians (MI) in 2021, and the all-rounder did very little of note in three games.

A fearsome lower-order ball striker, Neesham has played a few vital cameos for New Zealand in T20Is. Yet, a batting average under 20 and a bowling economy rate of over 9.50 in T20Is this year does not inspire much confidence amongst the bidders.

Another factor that could work against Neesham is the Impact Player Rule, which has reduced the value of bits-and-pieces all-rounders. Considering these factors, it will be hard-pressed for the big-hitting Kiwi to find a destination for the 2024 IPL season.

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Edited by Ankush Das
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