Updated: December 20, 2019 9:08:27 am
The opening bid for Pat Cummins was Rs 2 crore. It was just an overture, for the Australian fast-bowling all-rounder was always going to get a lot more than his base price.
The IPL 2020 auction in Kolkata on Thursday went on expected lines. Overseas fast bowlers were in demand as also the big-hitters. Almost every franchise was looking to add an overseas fast bowler. Little wonder then that Cummins, the most prized asset of the auction, was sold for Rs 15.50 crore. It’s an IPL record for a foreign player and third most expensive in the overall list after Virat Kohli’s retention amount of Rs 17 crore and Yuvraj Singh’s auction value of Rs 16 crore.
Delhi Capitals wanted an overseas fast bowler. They were part of the bidding war but quit after a certain point. Royal Challengers Bangalore, too, desperately wanted to have a quality quick in their ranks. One of the reasons for RCB’s underachievement has had been the lack of an impact bowler. But at Rs 14.75 crore they stopped. Kolkata Knight Riders seemed to be determined to have Cummins. They broke the bank.
KKR clinched the deal in slog overs, so to speak, joining the bidding war late. They moved in after the bid had touched Rs 14.75 crore. “I thought he (Cummins) was the best player of the auction. His development as a cricketer; he’s grown, (his) body has become robust. He is now the vice-captain of the Australian cricket team which is a mark of his development. Delighted to have him back. Wonderful to secure a world-class player,” Knight Riders coach Brendon McCullum said.
The franchise CEO Venky Mysore explained the strategy. “We would have come in earlier. We were certainly interested in him. (He) played for us. We were determined to get him when we got the first opportunity. It’s great that (Eoin) Morgan and Cummins are both with KKR. Homecoming for them,” he said.
Fast bowlers are at a premium in modern-day cricket. A significant chunk of that category hails from India. But all the frontline Indian fast bowlers are happily settled in their respective franchises. Overseas fast bowlers going for big money simply conformed to the law of supply and demand.
Cummins wasn’t a case in isolation. RCB bought South African fast-bowling all-rounder Chris Morris — base price Rs 1.5 crore — for Rs 10 crore. Having missed out on Cummins, they spent lavishly on the next best thing that the auction had to offer. Kings XI Punjab forked out a whopping Rs 8.5 crore for Sheldon Cottrell, 17 times the base price. Unlike Cummins and Morris, the West Indies fast bowler is an IPL greenhorn. But he is having a very good limited-overs series in India at the moment, and that he is a left-arm pacer added to his value.
Even Mumbai Indians, boasting of T20’s fast-bowling royalty — Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga — spent Rs 8 crore for Australia’s Nathan Coulter-Nile, an eight-time increase in his base price. Chennai Super Kings, a spin-heavy team, roped in England seaming allrounder Sam Curran for Rs 5.5 crore and Australian fast-medium bowler Josh Hazlewood for Rs 2 crore.
“There’s a lot of money in the room spent on very small number of players, therefore the inflated prices,” Rajasthan Royals co-owner Manoj Badale said.
Power-hitters earn big
In October, Glenn Maxell temporarily set aside cricket to deal with his mental health issues. He hasn’t played any competitive cricket since. Today he went to Kings XI Punjab for Rs 10.75 crore — base price Rs 2 crore — after some frenetic biddings. Auction dynamics sometimes make certain players overpriced. But the way Kings XI went for Maxwell, it felt like they were banking on his 154-plus T20 strike-rate that provides the x-factor.
Kings XI CEO Satish Menon said as much. “He (Maxwell) was very much on our radar. Middle-order was a concern for us. He’s been with us in the past so he knows the exact layout of the team. On the mental issues, these things come and go. I’m sure he is coming out of it. We have been tracking him a lot. We are sure he is back in his zone.”
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