Firepower: Mitchell Johnson. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Mitchell Johnson's successful return to the elite ranks of international cricket will result in him competing with David Warner as Australia's most valuable Twenty20 player at next month's Indian Premier League player auction.
Although analysts do not expect the cash to be splashed as wantonly in this year's market, Johnson is tipped to fetch a $US1 million ($1.12 million) price tag after his hot summer and could even go as high as $US1.2m.
Finch’s rapid improvement in the limited-overs scene has not gone unnoticed by IPL franchises.
Warner has long been regarded as Australia's best player in the shortest form of the game but Johnson's stocks have risen in the eyes of IPL buyers after his bruising performances in the Ashes.
Money man: David Warner. Photo: Getty Images
One IPL team director listed Warner, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell alongside Johnson as likely to be the five most sought after Australians but it's the left-armer whom he believes will generate the most excitement at the auction. ''A couple of them will go close to $US1 million,'' the insider said. ''I don't see them topping much more than $1.1 million or $1.2 million other than Johnson.
''He is the only one I can see a serious price on because he offers something nobody else does - hostility. He is a premium player, that is the key.''
Finch's rapid improvement in the limited-overs scene has not gone unnoticed by IPL franchises, who ignored him at last year's auction. Australia's emerging pace talent of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc will all nominate for the auction, so too Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Sought after: Australian batsman Steve Smith. Photo: GREG WOOD
Hazlewood, who was named the Sydney Sixers' player of the tournament when they won the 2012 Champions League, has been identified as one Australian who could command a surprisingly fat pay cheque.
''Someone with height, ability and who can bowl yorkers will be looked at,'' the team director said. ''They are the categories which Indians don't have.''
Dozens of Australians are expected to nominate for the auction, including Michael Hussey, Brett Lee, James Pattinson, Cameron White and Jackson Bird, but captain Michael Clarke is tipped to sit out.
One to watch: Aaron Finch of Australia. Photo: Getty Images
While the elite players are still expected to command a high fee in the IPL the chances of an international player not proven on the world stage - such as Dan Christian, who was bought for $US900,000 in 2011 despite fewer than a handful of appearances for Australia - getting an exorbitant price have diminished.
The number of teams in this year's competition is down from 10 for the last major auction in 2011 to eight, reducing the demand. Auction rules have also been changed, allowing uncapped Indian players who were previously sold from a separate pool now being part of the open auction. This move was designed to reward India's best players and their emerging talent.
The high number of players retained by their franchises has also eaten away at the salary cap. Delhi, the sole team not to retain a player, is the only franchise which has the full 600 million rupees ($10.9m) to spend at the auction while those who retained the maximum five have 210m rupees to spend to fill the remaining 12-22 vacancies on their list.
Tom Moody, the head coach for Hyderabad Sun Risers, was expecting fewer international players to be picked and teams to be operating with a smaller budget compared to the past.
''I'm envisaging top internationals will still get recognised financially through the auction process but there'll be a lot more internationals walking away surprised or disappointed that maybe the lofty prices of the past haven't been met,'' Moody said. ''It's still a big [cash] cow but it's not a herd.''