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Aussies set for Indian pay day

17 December 2012

HOCKEY: India captain Sardar Singh emerged as the most expensive player in the Hockey India League (HIL) while Australians Eddie Ockenden and Jamie Dwyer were also among the top earners.

The world's leading field hockey stars will play in the new Indian tournament next month on the lines of cricket's popular Indian Premier League.

The HIL, sanctioned by the sport's world governing body, will have the top stars turn out for five franchised-based teams from January 17-February 17, organisers said on Sunday.

Singh, who topped the five marquee players, was picked up by the Delhi Wave Riders franchise for an annual salary of $US78,000 at an auction that began in New Delhi on Sunday and was expected to continue late into the night.

Other marquee players sold at the auction were Germany's double Olympic gold medallist Moritz Fuertse for $US75,500 to Ranchi Rhinos, world's most capped player Tuen de Nooijer of Netherlands to Uttar Pradesh Wizards for $US66,000 and Australia captain Dwyer to Jaypee Punjab Warriors at $US60,000.

Among other early gainers were Australians Ockenden (UP Wizards for $US65,000) and Mark Knowles (Punjab Warriors for $US57,000).

India full back V.R. Raghunath, fetched the second highest price of $US76,000 for Uttar Pradesh Wizards.

According to the rules, a marquee player will get 15 per cent more than the highest-paid player of the team. Thus, Raghunath's price will fetch more for de Nooijer.

India's second marquee player and drag-flick specialist Sandeep Singh went for his base price of $US27,800 to Mumbai Magicians.

But owing to Australian defender Joel Caroll, who became the highest-paid in the Mumbai team at $US56,000, Singh will get 15 per cent more than him.

The money paled in comparison to what cricketers make in the five-year-old IPL - where top players earn around $US2 million a year - but was still a financial bonanza for the hockey stars.

Each of the five squads will have 10 foreign and 14 Indian players for the televised tournament described by HIL boss Narinder Batra as a "game changer" in the world of hockey.

"The tournament not only provides players a great platform to showcase their skills, but also helps them gain financial rewards and raises the profile of hockey in India and across the world," said Batra.

Among the renowned coaches signed up by the franchises, owned by Indian business houses, were Ric Charlesworth and Barry Dancer of Australia, and Roelant Oltmans of the Netherlands. Charlesworth is at the helm of the Mumbai Magicians, which selected four Australian players, and Kookaburras 2004 Olympic gold medal winning coach Dancer is the head coach of Jaypee Punjab Warriors, which selected six Australian players.

There were 15 Australian players selected in total:

Delhi Wave Riders
Young Queenslander Matthew Gohdes was the only Australian selected for the Wave Riders which is captained by Indian national team Captain Sardar Singh. Gohdes joins 2012 Olympic gold medalists Oskar Deecke and Nicolas Jacobi from Germany.

Mumbai Magicians
Ric Charlesworth has selected Kookaburras defenders Joel Carroll (NT) and Mark Knowles (QLD) to play alongside striker Glenn Turner (ACT) and midfielder Matthew Butturini (NSW). Teammates for the four Kookaburras include India’s number one goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and India’s number one drag flicker Sandeep Singh.

Jaypee Punjab Warriors
Barry Dancer selected five Kookaburras from the recent gold medal winning Champions Trophy team which defeated the Netherlands in the final in Melbourne. Kookaburras co-Captains Dwyer and Knowles are accompanied by Victorian Chris Ciriello, Wollongong local Kieran Govers, Simon Orchard (NSW) and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Rob Hammond (QLD). Jaap Stockman, arguably the best goalkeeper in the world will be in goals for the Warriors. A mouth-watering clash awaits the Hockey India League when Charlesworth’s Magicians take on Dancer’s Warriors.

Ranchi Rhinos
Kookaburra’s co-Captain Fergus Kavanagh is the lone Australian selected in the Rhinos squad of 24 players. Kavanagh will play alongside 2012 Olympics gold medalist Mortiz Fuerste who secured the second highest price at the auction. England poster boy Ashley Jackson secured the sixth highest price at auction and joins the most multinational squad which includes players from India, Spain, South Africa, Pakistan, Australia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany and England.

Uttar Pradesh Wizards
Three Australian’s join the Dutch heavy team which includes the Netherlands most capped player in history Teun De Nooijer and four 2012 Champions Trophy silver medallists Jeroen Hertzberger, Marcel Balkstein, Wouter Jolie and Sander Baart. Kookaburras co-Captain Eddie Ockenden (TAS), goalkeeper George Bazeley (VIC) and retried Kookaburra Luke Doerner (TAS) will play with the highest selling player at the auction De Nooijer and the fifth highest selling player VR Raghunath of India.


AFP/DPA

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