Steve Smith, Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell have been released by their IPL franchises.
Steve Smith, Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell have been released by their IPL franchises.

Star Aussie trio unceremoniously axed

Steve Smith has been relieved of another captaincy job, Aaron Finch has exited his eighth IPL franchise and Glenn Maxwell paid the price for a poor season as Australia's cricketers were handed more pain from India overnight.

The star trio were the highest profile releases as teams in the world's premier T20 cricket competition positioned themselves for the player auction ahead of next season.

Big spenders Rajasthan Royals confirmed they will not be keeping Smith for this year's contest in a second blow this week to the star batsman after he was in the Australian side beaten by India in a Test series.

The Royals have however kept England stars Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer in their team which Smith had captained this year when they came bottom of the eight team league.

"Steve has been a great player and great leader for the Royals, and we want to thank him for his contribution to the franchise," said Royals owner Manoj Badale.

Sanju Samson will be the new captain.

Smith played 14 matches in the 2020 IPL, which was played behind closed doors in the United Arab Emirates because of the coronavirus pandemic, scoring 311 runs.

He contributed a century and two fifties for Australia in the Test series won by India 2-1 and would still be a top draw in the IPL auction due to be held next month.

Punjab King's XI, among the poor performers in 2020, released Australian batsman Maxwell but will be keeping 41-year-old West Indies big hitter Chris Gayle who will be looking to add to his record 13,500 runs in T20 cricket.

Maxwell scored just 108 runs at 15.4 in 13 matches last season.

Finch also felt the pain after making 268 runs at 22.3 for Royal Challengers Bangalore. He could possibly play for his ninth IPL franchise after previous stints with the Rajasthan Royals, Delhi Daredevils, Pune Warriors, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Mumbai Indians, Gujarat Lions and Kings XI Punjab.

Elsewhere, Sri Lankan fast bowler Malinga, 37, was released by the Mumbai Indians after 12 seasons, where he took 170 wickets, though he pulled out of the 2020 competition which the side won for their fifth title.

"After discussing with family, I think now is the right time to retire from all franchise cricket," Malinga said.

"The pandemic situation and the restrictions on travel will make it difficult for me given my personal circumstances to participate fully in franchise cricket for the next year and therefore it is best to make this decision now."

The Indians also released Nathan Coulter-Nile and James Pattinson from Australia and New Zealand's Mitchell McClenaghan.

Meanwhile Australia's Marcus Stoinis will stay on for his franchise Delhi Capitals along with South African quick Kagiso Rabada. But the side have released England batsman Jason Roy.

The IPL - the world's wealthiest cricket tournament which attracts top stars from around the globe - is expected to start in April.

- with AFP

Originally published as Star Aussie trio unceremoniously axed


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