Amidst Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff's headline grabbing contracts in this year's Indian Premier League auction, three other English players also picked up one of the lucrative berths—Ravi Bopara, Owais Shah, and Paul Collingwood.
Are the five Englishmen worth the big bucks? Bleacher Report has done some number crunching through the past four years of 20/20 internationals, and the following is a value-for-money assessment for each aforementioned player.
Value: $1.55 million; 20/20 International Games Played: 14; Batting Average: 27.92; Strike Rate: 148.757;
Of all regular English players, Pietersen is surprisingly pipped to best batting average by Owais Shah, although his faster strike rate and higher top score arguably establish him as England's most valuable 20/20 batsman.
Although Pietersen occasionally bowls in test matches, he is not considered a viable 20/20 option and doesn't achieve the revered status of an all-rounder. His personality and aggression certainly bring added value. Pietersen is a potential winner and Bangalore fans will love watching him.
VERDICT: Pietersen is perhaps overvalued, but has more than enough talent to prove his worth in the IPL.
Value: $1.55 million; 20/20 International Games Played: 7; Batting Average: 12.66; Strike Rate: 126.66; Bowling Average: 32.2; Economy: 6.44.
Flintoff has particularly impressive batting figures for a hailed all-rounder, but his real strength as a 20/20 cricketer is his excellent bowling economy, topping the English chart in that category. And of course we all know he can bat explosively. Like Pietersen, Flintoff is always a potential match winner and crowd pleaser.
VERDICT: Flintoff is slightly overvalued given his disappointing batting record, but again could easily prove his worth.
Value: $450,000; 20/20 International Games Played: One—did not bat or bowl.
Bopara is one of the five English players not to have any 20/20 International experience, and whilst his first-class record for Essex is good, it is nothing particularly special.
No doubt his potential and all-rounder status made him an attractive package for Kings XI Punjab, but does he have what it takes to hack it in the big league? He will certainly relish playing for Punjab, a region of Bopara family ancestry.
VERDICT: Bopara is seemingly overpriced given his unproven record at the international level.
Value: $375,000; 20/20 International Games Played: 10; Batting Average: 29.37; Strike Rate: 135.05;
Shah is the leading English batsman in terms of batting average. He also has the valuable ability in the midst of 20/20 volatility of being able to anchor innings. It is unfortunate for Shah to not be a test regular—an IPL contract is the least Shah deserves.
VERDICT: An excellent buy, Shah could be expected to fetch a lot more considering his proven pedigree at international level.
Value: $275,000; 20/20 International Games Played: 14; Batting Average: 25.38; Strike Rate: 140.42; Bowling Average 18.23; Economy 9.48.
A one-time captain, Collingwood has been England's leading all-rounder in international 20/20 games, with an excellent batting average and strike rate. Although slightly pricey with the ball, he makes up for it by taking regular wickets.
The Englishman is not a glamorous player, though he has won many a game simply by going about his business. He is also an excellent fielder.
VERDICT: The almost insultingly low contract received by Collingwood is equally an excellent deal for Delhi.
Shah and Collingwood are both excellent buys, and suggest that Pietersen and Flintoff are indeed overpriced, as neither one of the latter is worth more than the combined total of the former two.
However, as it is the IPL where glam is a refreshingly all-important factor, I think the fans of Bangalore and Chennai will be delighted to have Pietersen and Flintoff in their respective folds. Bopara is also a big winner, getting a contract far above his station. He does, however, deserve his place ahead of the two Englishmen to miss out—Samit Patel and Luke Wright.