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Feature

The lowdown on Jhye Richardson, the latest millionaire in the Punjab Kings ranks

All you need to know about the Australian quick, who was signed by Punjab Kings for INR 14 crore at the IPL 2021 auction

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
18-Feb-2021
Jhye Richardson of the Scorchers celebrates a wicket, Melbourne, January 23, 2021

Jhye Richardson was the BBL's leading wicket-taker in the 2020-21 season, with 29 scalps while returning an economy rate of 7.69  •  Cricket Australia via Getty Images

Jhye Richardson, the 24-year-old Australian fast bowler, has been one of the hottest properties at this year's IPL auction. Here is his backstory.
Tearaway teenager
Richardson hails from Perth in Western Australia and despite his small frame he developed a reputation for producing express pace as a teenager when playing for Fremantle Cricket Club, the home of the Marsh brothers, Shaun and Mitchell, and Ashton Turner. He made his List A and first-class debuts at 19 for Western Australia and played one game in the BBL in 2015-16 for the Perth Scorchers. But he announced himself the following season when he was Player of the Match in the BBL final as the Scorchers claimed their third BBL title under coach Justin Langer.
International debut
Later that summer, in February 2017, Langer was seconded to stand in as coach for Australia's three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka while full-time coach Darren Lehmann and the Test squad headed to India. With a number of first-choice players away there was an opportunity for some of the best performers in the BBL to get their international breaks and Richardson played in two of the three games, debuting in a nail-biter at Geelong.
The following summer he consistently took wickets in all formats but bowled superbly in a Sheffield Shield fixture for Western Australia against a full-strength New South Wales side that featured the then Australia captain Steven Smith. Richardson took six wickets in the match, including David Warner in the second innings, and bowled a lot to Smith during his second-innings century.
That performance led to his ODI debut, and he was later selected for his first Test squad, on Australia's infamous Test tour of South Africa in 2018. He had played just five first-class games before going on that tour.
Fresh face in a new era
When Langer took over as coach of Australia following the South Africa tour, Richardson was part of a new team of fresh faces for Langer's first assignment, a five-match ODI tour of England. He was part of the attack that gave up a world-record ODI score at Trent Bridge.
He went on Australia's subsequent T20I tour of Zimbabwe and played in all five games but he was not selected for the Test or T20I tour of the UAE in October of 2018. Instead, he went back and dominated for Western Australia taking 27 wickets in the first five Sheffield Shield games including a career-best 8 for 47 against New South Wales.
He returned to the ODI team in January 2019 and took 4 for 26 in game one against India including the prize scalp of Virat Kohli. Just two weeks later he made his Test debut against Sri Lanka in the absence of Josh Hazlewood. He took five wickets for the match and gave Australia's much-vaunted Test attack some more variety. It looked, at the time, as though he may become a permanent fixture in all three formats for Australia heading into the Ashes and the World Cup.
Injury setback
Richardson dislocated his right shoulder while diving in the field during at ODI against Pakistan in Sharjah in the lead-up to the World Cup. The injury ruled him out of the World Cup and the subsequent Ashes series. He made a quiet return to domestic cricket later in 2019 but didn't immediately reach the pace he previously had and also struggled to throw in the field.
He had a solid BBL09 campaign and got better as the tournament progressed, which led to his selection for Australia's limited-overs tour of South Africa in early 2020. He made his international return in the third ODI at Potchefstroom when Mitchell Starc flew home to watch his wife Alyssa Healy play in the T20 World Cup final in Melbourne.
Second surgery
When the Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to international cricket, Richardson elected to have further surgery to stabilise his troublesome shoulder.
He missed the first part of the Sheffield Shield season later in the summer as he was still building up to a full return. That decision paid dividends for the Scorchers in the BBL where he starred as the tournament's leading wicket-taker, producing devastating spells in the Powerplay and Power Surge which caught the eye of IPL owners and Australia's selectors. He also played some excellent cameos with the bat, proving to be an inventive strokemaker in the death overs coming in at No. 8.
Such was Richardson's form, he was talked about as a possible inclusion in Australia's Test squad to South Africa but his lack of red-ball cricket over the previous 12 months meant that he was instead selected for Australia's five-match T20I tour of New Zealand, which begins on Monday.
Expert eye
"He's been magnificent for us. He bowls all the tough overs. He bowls up front, he's bowling in every power surge and he's often got one at the death as well. Not only is he the leading wicket-taker, but I think he's also got one of the better economy rates in the competition."
Perth Scorchers coach Adam Voges

Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne