Hundred reasons to smile for top Aussies
STEVE Smith had no idea he was just hours away from pocketing nearly a quarter of a million dollars as one of the pin-up boys of England's new The Hundred competition.
Ten Australians will scoop just under $2 million after they were snapped up in Monday's player draft in which megastar Chris Gayle was left on the shelf.
Last year Delhi Daredevils coach Ricky Ponting bought Glenn Maxwell for $1.7 million in the Indian Premier League, and on Monday another Aussie legend zeroed in on the Victorian.
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This time it was London Spirit, coached by Shane Warne, that drafted Maxwell with its first pick.
While Afghan spinner Rashid Khan went No. 1 overall, Darren Lehmann's Northern Superchargers used the No. 3 pick to take Australian white-ball captain Aaron Finch.
Andre Russell, who will join Finch at Melbourne Renegades this summer, went No.2.
Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Starc ran the risk of going unsold by placing the maximum price on their heads - $235,000.
That meant they could be selected only in the first two rounds, which they were.
Smith joined The Hundred draft broadcast via a TV cross from Sydney Harbour early on Monday, before NSW defeated Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield. But he was stumped when asked about the draft on Sunday night.
"When is that?" Smith said.
"See how we go - (my) name's in there so … if I get picked up, I get picked up, and if I don't, I don't.
"As far as I know (I'm available to play). I'll go where I'm told.
"I'd like to play. I think it's a pretty cool concept and it would be cool to play in the first one."
About 12 hours later and Smith was $235,000 richer, joining Starc at Welsh Fire.
Starc will earn about $1500 a delivery during the 38-day tournament.
The radical 100-ball an innings format was invented to liven up cricket in England and take the game to new audiences.
Indian captain Virat Kohli was among The Hundred cynics.
"I feel somewhere the commercial aspect is taking over the real quality of cricket, and that hurts me. I'm all for the leagues, but not to experiment," Kohli said last year.
While 10 Aussies were picked up, 43 - including all-rounders Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Marsh - missed out.
Australian women's captain Meg Lanning will join Aussie coach Matthew Mott at Welsh Fire.
Alyssa Healy (Northern Superchargers) and Sophie Mol-ineux (Trent Rockets) are also marquee names.
"We (myself and Mott) know each other really well, and hopefully that can give us an edge," Lanning said.
AUSSIES TAKEN IN THE HUNDRED DRAFT
Aaron Finch (No. 3 pick, Northern Superchargers)
Mitchell Starc (No. 4 pick, Welsh Fire)
Glenn Maxwell (No. 7 pick, London Spirit)
Steve Smith (No. 13 pick, Welsh Fire)
David Warner (No. 15 pick, Southern Brave)
D'Arcy Short (No. 16 pick, Trent Rockets)
Chris Lynn (No. 19 pick, Northern Superchargers)
Nathan Coulter-Nile (No. 33 pick, Trent Rockets)
Dan Christian (No. 54 pick, Manchester Originals)
Adam Zampa (No. 89 pick, Birmingham Phoenix)
Meg Lanning (Welsh Fire)
Alyssa Healy (Northern Superchargers)
Sophie Molineux (Trent Rockets)
TOP EARNINGS AROUND THE WORLD
Indian Premier League - $3.76 million (Virat Kohli, 2019)
Big Bash League - $1.82 million salary cap per franchise (top earner takes home around $300,000)