England all-rounder Nat Sciver-Brunt and spinner Sophie Ecclestone both secured six-figure deals at the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) auction.
Sciver-Brunt was sold to the Charlotte Edwards-coached Mumbai Indians for 3.2 crore (around £320,000), while Ecclestone will play under England head coach Jon Lewis at UP Warriorz after landing a deal worth 1.8 crore (around £180,000).
England captain Heather Knight was among the big names who looked like she may go unsold before the Royal Challengers Bangalore came in with 40 lakh (around £40,000), with a maximum of six international players permitted on each the league’s five founding teams.
India’s Smriti Mandhana was the first player up and attracted the top price, with Royal Challengers Bangalore paying 3.4 crore (around £340,000) for the services of the hard-hitting batter, who watched it all unfold from the T20 World Cup in South Africa alongside her team-mates.
Former England batter Lydia Greenway hailed the eye-watering sums splashed on the top talent as a seismic shift for the women’s game.
She told Viacom18 Sports: “It’s massive. The amount that Smriti Mandhana has just gone for is unheard of in our game.
“You’d be lucky if you made that out of the whole of your career as an international female cricketer, going back a few years.
“It’s a life-changing amount of money. It’s about the security of it.
“I know these players can now just focus on playing, but I think for the youngsters, as well to see this happening, hopefully it will just encourage a few more young girls to pick up a cricket bat as well.”
Australian all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner rounded out the top three, fetching around the same price as Sciver-Brunt when she was snapped up by Gujarat Giants.
Each franchise began with a purse of around £11.5million to spend on a squad of between 15 and 18 players for the new tournament, which will last 23 days between March 4-26.
Even those not commanding top bids still fetched considerably more than they would elsewhere in the women’s game.
England all-rounder Alice Capsey was claimed by Delhi Capitals for around £75,000 and Gujarat Giants picked up England batter Sophia Dunkley for just over £60,000.
Issy Wong joined Sciver-Brunt at Mumbai Indians for about £30,000, while England bowler Lauren Bell fetched a similar amount as she was added to the UP Warriorz line-up.
Four England players entered the auction at the maximum base price of £50,000, including Ecclestone, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Katherine Sciver-Brunt and Danni Wyatt.
All-rounder Wyatt and Katherine Sciver-Brunt were among the unsold players on a list that also included England wicket-keeper Amy Jones, Kent captain Tammy Beaumont, England under-19 captain Grace Scrivens and Scottish sisters Sarah and Kathryn Bryce.
Broadcast rights for the league have been sold for £95million in an initial agreement covering the first five years of the tournament.