Last February, Australia’s Glenn Maxwell hit a quick-fire 51 to help crush the West Indies in a one-day cricket international in Perth.
Two days later he heard he would be $US1 million richer.
Maxwell was the surprise top pick in last year’s IPL player auction – the lucrative Indian-based twenty-20 competition – as he was snapped up by the Mumbai Indians after a bidding war between franchises.
It showed IPL teams’ willingness to take a risk (albeit on a one-year contract) with young, hard-hitters – and especially promising allrounders. It also shows players are rewarded for good form leading up to the competition’s player auction.
With Maxwell’s case already documented, and this year’s IPL auction looming in a few weeks, the cricketing (and salary) gods might be aligning for New Zealand’s Corey Anderson.
In three swashbuckling weeks, Anderson hit the fastest one-day century (in Queenstown on January 1) and, importantly, backed it up with some useful performances against a star-studded Indian side featuring some of the IPL’s best-paid players (on last year’s salaries: MS Dhoni $US3 million, Rohit Sharma $US2 million and Ravindra Jadeja $US2 million).
After his 36-ball hundred in Queenstown, West Indies’ Dwayne Bravo, who plays for the Chennai Super Kings, predicted a million dollar future for Anderson adding: “I hope the right people are watching him.”
Fairly high chance
Sky Sports commentator Craig McMillan, a Cantabrian who had a decade-long international cricket career, rates the chances of Anderson picking up a big contract as “fairly high” at the auction to be held on February 12 and 13.
“IPL sides like allrounders because of the added value that they can win games with generally bat or ball,” McMillan told NBR ONLINE.
“His feats with the bat – that hundred in Queenstown against the West Indies and even the two knocks he’s had in the first two one-day internationals against India – show he’s got raw power, hits the ball a long way, scores quickly and basically in T20 cricket he can win a game by himself very quickly. I’m sure he’s going to be in the sights of quite a few of those IPL franchises.”
If two or three franchises go after Anderson that will lift his salary – perhaps even to the magic million dollars that Maxwell achieved last year.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he did go for a number like that.”
Not bad for guy who only turned 23 last month and played his first Twenty20 match for New Zealand in December 2012, against South Africa in Durban (he scored five, and New Zealand got hammered by eight wickets).
“He’s still very new to international cricket,” McMillan says. “But what he’s shown in that time is a huge amount of potential and whenever you do well against India, it certainly can’t hurt your chances.
"It's going to be a pretty exciting opportunity where you're going to get paid lavish amounts of money. You're going to get a lot of fame, you're going to have a lot of people wanting to talk to you and use your time – it's going to help develop him."
Anderson showed early promise – snaring a Canterbury cricket contract at age 16.
In 2008, he scored a swift 70 runs against India in the under-19 world cup semi-final in Kuala Lumpur and last August-September he scored a century against India A during a developmental tour.
Some compare him to the country's best all-rounder Chris Cairns, who says: "I wish I could hit the ball like him."
McMillan says Anderson is level-headed, respectful and a "terrific kid," whose biggest challenge is to remain injury-free.
"The last five or six years he hasn't got through a full season of domestic cricket. He's had a lot of injury problems from a very young age."
McMillan, who has been an IPL commentator for the last three years, says a contract could be the making of Anderson, as a cricketer.
“You get to see how other top international players prepare, how they play, what they think; so, from an experience point of view it’s huge, depending on what franchise and what players he ends up playing alongside. And I’m sure all of those things Corey will bring back into the New Zealand set-up; it fast-tracks his learning.”
Given their twenty20 talent, Anderson, captain Brendon McCullum and opening batsmen Jesse Ryder are near certainties to get contracts, with Nathan McCullum and Ross Taylor also in the mix.
McMillan’s roughie for an IPL contract is quick bowler Mitchell McClenaghan.
“He hasn’t played a lot of T20 cricket but has an outstanding one-day record – he has started really well, in terms of how quickly he picks up wickets – and in many ways he reminds me a bit of (Australian fast bowler) Mitchell Johnson.”
McMillan says an IPL contract is a chance to play with a bevy of international cricketers, in different conditions to New Zealand – but under intense, high-stakes pressure, particularly if you bag a big contract.
Unfortunately, in every auction there are some highly-paid flops.
Which brings us back to Glenn Maxwell.
Despite his price tag, Maxwell played a handful of times for the Mumbai Indians, with a high score of 23.
Earlier this month, he told The Australian newspaper: "The IPL auction's just a bit of a lottery, basically.
"If you're lucky enough to go, just go and enjoy the two months while you're there."
McMillan thinks Maxwell will get picked for an IPL team but "there’s no way in the world” he’ll get anywhere near the amount he got last year.
“If you’re bought for a million dollars straight away that adds pressure, doesn’t it,” McMillan observes.