England's Ben Stokes, Australia's Mitchell Starc and veteran West Indies big-hitter Chris Gayle are among the stars missing from the upcoming auction for the Indian Premier League, media reports said Saturday.
More than 1,200 cricketers from India and 18 countries across the world have registered to go under the hammer in Bangalore on February 12 and 13 for the 15th edition of the world's most lucrative cricket tournament.
Other notable absentees from the long list of players in the bidding pool for the IPL -- expected to begin in April depending on the Covid situation in India -- are the English trio of Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran, the reports said.
Stokes and Woakes both participated in England's recent disastrous Ashes tour of Australia. Captain Joe Root -- who has never played in the IPL -- is also sitting out the auction although fast bowler Mark Wood is on the list along with Australian stars David Warner and Pat Cummins, the reports said.
Ten teams will bid and participate in this year's IPL after the addition of two new franchises, Ahmedabad and Lucknow.
India's opening batter KL Rahul will captain Lucknow after he was signed as the joint-highest-paid player, for 170 million rupees ($2.3 million), in the history of the tournament.
Former Indian captain Virat Kohli was signed for the same amount in 2018 by the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise.
"I have been very impressed by KL's not only batting and wicketkeeping abilities, but his leadership skills," Lucknow team owner Sanjiv Goenka told Star Sports.
Ahmedabad, which was purchased by global private equity giants CVC capital, announced Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya as the new team's skipper. The franchise also signed Afghanistan's star leg-spinner Rashid Khan for 150 million rupees ($2.1 million) and young Indian batter Shubman Gill for 80 million rupees.
Gary Kirsten, former South African batter and mentor for the Ahmedabad franchise, said that it was an opportunity for Hardik as "a young and new captain".
"I think he will be really motivated to come in and make a plan and show what he is capable of at this level of the game as a leader," Kirsten said.
With Covid cases rising, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is yet to give dates for the IPL or to confirm it will take place in India.
The last edition began in India but was suspended in May 2021 as cases soared and was completed later in the year in the United Arab Emirates, with Chennai Super Kings emerging as champions.