Rising Aussie stars snapped up in WPL bidding war

Annabel Sutherland becomes the second most expensive Australian purchase in a WPL auction

Two of Australia's rising stars have sparked bidding wars to score a bumper pay day at the second annual Women's Premier League auction.

With just nine overseas spots left to fill across the five franchises for the 2024 season, club owners were eager to make sure they snapped up the best international talent to bolster their rosters.

And Phoebe Litchfield and Annabel Sutherland reaped the rewards as Gujarat Giants and Delhi Capitals respectively fought off challengers to secure two of Australia's brightest prospects.

Sutherland was especially sought after as the Jonathan Batty-coached Capitals – who is also the head coach of the Victorian allrounder's Melbourne Stars – went toe-to-toe with Mumbai Indians to land the prized 22-year-old.

Sutherland's price of 200 lakh (A$364,000) makes her the second most expensive Australian purchase behind Ashleigh Gardner from the first WPL auction – and Batty says she has been the one of the most improved players over the last 24 months in world cricket.

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"She was the No.1 allrounder on the list, she can bowl in all three phases of the game and can bat anywhere from three to number seven," he said after securing the winning bid.

"Annabel is a very multi-skilled player … she's really level, she's got great leadership attributes and is a great team player.

"She covers a lot of bases with us – a fast bowler and her batting prowess really completes our squad.

"She was going to be our No.1 pick from the start with all those attributes."

Sutherland, who was released by Gujarat after last season, joins fellow Victorian and retired Australian captain Meg Lanning and Queensland pair Jess Jonassen and Laura Harris at Delhi in 2024, with the trio retained by the franchise prior to the auction.

Litchfield was the first Aussie auctioned off on Saturday night and immediately sparked interest from multiple teams.

The 20-year-old left-hander scored a huge maiden WPL deal as the Giants secured the winning amount of 100 lakh (A$182,000).

"For Australia she bats in the middle order, and we were looking for someone there in the lower middle order and she is very flexible and being a 'lefty' that also adds a little bit for us," said Mithali Raj, former India captain and Gujarat Giants mentor.

"She's a youngster so she gets that energy onto the field and is a very good fielder … so she was definitely on our list."

Sydney Sixers left-arm quick Lauren Cheatle then capped a stellar past month after being recalled to Australia's squad for this month's Test match against India in Mumbai when she was also snapped up by Gujarat for 30 lakh (A$55,000).

The NSW duo join fellow Australians Ashleigh Gardner and Beth Mooney at Gujarat next season with the pair also retained by the franchise prior to the auction.

Leg-spinning allrounder Georgia Wareham was the second Australian bought during the early stages of the WPL auction on Saturday, going to Royal Challengers Bangalore for 40 lakh (A$73,000).

Wareham was another released by Gujarat prior to the auction.

Royal Challengers then secured Wareham's Victorian teammate Sophie Molineux for 30 lakh (A$55,000) with the last buy of the auction.

Fellow Aussie spinners Alana King and Amanda-Jade Wellington, and fast bowler Kim Garth, went unsold.

Australia's 16-player squad will depart for India this week for their multi-format tour beginning with the Test match at Mumbai's famous Wankhede Stadium on December 21.

Aussies at the WPL Auction

Annabel Sutherland: 200 lakh (A$364,000) – Delhi Capitals

Phoebe Litchfield: 100 lakh (A$182,000) – Gujarat Giants

Georgia Wareham: 40 lakh (A$73,000) – Royal Challengers Bangalore

Lauren Cheatle: 30 lakh (A$55,000) – Gujarat Giants

Sophie Molineux: 30 lakh (A$55,000) – Royal Challengers Bangalore

Unsold: Alana King, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Kim Garth, Naomi Stalenberg, Nicola Hancock, Millicent Illingworth