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News

Sam Curran becomes most expensive player in IPL history

Cameron Green and Ben Stokes also rake in the big bucks as allrounders spark intense bidding wars

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
23-Dec-2022
Sam Curran broke Chris Morris' record (INR 16.25 crore) to become the most expensive buy at an IPL auction, when Punjab Kings outbid five other teams to sign him for INR 18.50 crore (USD 2.25 million approximately).
At that price, Curran is also the most expensive player in IPL history - even more than retained players like Virat Kohli and KL Rahul - and he was reunited with the franchise that first brought him into the IPL with an INR 7.2-crore bid in 2019.
The England allrounder was the Player of the Final and the Tournament at the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia, and since September this year he has taken 25 wickets in 14 T20s at an economy rate of 7.08. He has also improved his batting, especially against spin: in 31 T20 innings since 2020, he has an average of 27.07 and a strike rate of 154.69.
"Absolutely overwhelmed and incredibly humbled to receive that bid," Curran told Star Sports. "Punjab is where I did my debut season a few years ago … It will be very different but I know the stadium at Mohali pretty well, and surely our team-mates will help me … Incredibly excited to come to India for this big opportunity. So many things running through my mind. At 9am this morning I was struggling to find a stream, it [the auction] wasn't on TV in England. ̛I sat with my girlfriend and her dad to watch it. I actually turned my phone off because I thought I was behind and didn't want to see any messages saying congrats. I saw the bids coming from Mumbai, then Chennai, having played for Chennai earlier it was cool to see them [bidding]."
Mumbai Indians went as far as INR 18.25 crore to try and line-up Curran alongside Jofra Archer, their other big-ticket England signing at the previous auction, but they were eventually outbid by Punjab, who had begun the auction with the second-largest purse. Shortly after failing to buy Curran, Mumbai got their hands on Cameron Green for INR 17.50 crore, making the 23-year old Australian allrounder the second most expensive player in IPL auction history.
"I'm pinching myself that this has all happened. It's such a weird feeling watching an auction for yourself. I can't believe how nervous I was, and I was shaking like anything when the final call was confirmed," Green said. "I've always been a huge fan of the IPL and it's going to be so cool to be a part of it. The Mumbai Indians are one of the powerhouses of the competition, so I feel very humbled to be joining them. I can't wait to get there next year."
Green's T20 stocks have risen significantly in the last six months. Not part of Australia's T20 World Cup squad initially, he was a last-minute inclusion after Josh Inglis picked up an injury while playing golf. Green attracted the attention of IPL team scouts in a big way after a prolific T20I series in India this year, where he made 118 runs, including two half-centuries, at a strike rate of 214.54 at the top of the order. His ability to bat anywhere in the order and bowl at a lively pace went in his favour at the auction.
Ben Stokes then became Chennai Super Kings' costliest signing in an auction at INR 16.25 crore, which also made him the joint-third most expensive player ever at an auction. Stokes will line up alongside MS Dhoni in the IPL once again, after a brief stint together at Rising Pune Supergiants.
Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals also bid for Stokes, but it soon became clear that their limited budgets would be a constraint. Having come into the auction with INR 20.45 crore, Super Kings spent nearly 80% of their budget on Stokes alone. He is also a viable captaincy candidate as the franchise begins to explore the idea of succession planning after Dhoni.
Sunrisers break the bank for Brook and Agarwal
Harry Brook also made a splash when Sunrisers Hyderabad staved off aggressive bidding from Rajasthan Royals to buy the England batter for INR 13.25 crore (USD 1.6 million approx.), the most a franchise has paid to sign an overseas batter at an auction.
Brook, 23, is set to feature in his first IPL season following a breakout year in international cricket. Only two months ago in Pakistan - his first international overseas trip - Brook impressed with his power-hitting to win the Player-of-the-Series award after hitting 238 runs at a strike rate of 163.01, in a T20I series that England won 4-3.
Brook's superior record across all T20s in Asia - 581 runs in 16 innings at a strike rate of 167.43 - may have been an attractive proposition for teams. More recently, Brook put behind a disappointing T20 World Cup campaign to blast three centuries in the three-Test series that England won 3-0 in Pakistan.
Having signed Brook, Sunrisers also went hard to secure opening batter Mayank Agarwal for INR 8.25 crore (USD 1 million approx.), thereby spending nearly 51% of their auction purse of INR 42.25 crore on back-to-back buys. This meant Sunrisers, who went as high as INR 14.75 crore to try and get Stokes, eventually missed out on a marquee allrounder.
Pooran takes home more than a million dollars again
Nicholas Pooran began the year by becoming the most expensive West Indian ever sold at an IPL auction, and he broke that record again when Lucknow Super Giants spent INR 16 crore (USD 2 million approx.) to buy him.
For a while, the fight for Pooran seemed to be a contest between Delhi Capitals and Rajasthan Royals, but once Super Giants swooped in with a bid nearing a million dollars, it became a two-team race between them and Capitals.
Pooran's endured a mixed year as far as his international career is concerned. He was named Kieron Pollard's successor as West Indies' T20I captain but stepped down following a dismal T20 World Cup campaign where West Indies failed to make it out of the first round after losses to Scotland and Ireland. He had a decent IPL 2022, though, being among the few notable performers in a disappointing season for Sunrisers. He made 306 runs including two fifties at an average of 38.25 and a strike rate of 144.33.
His power-hitting ability was most recently seen in the Abu Dhabi T10, where he was adjudged Player of the Tournament for his 345 runs, which came at an average of 49.28 and a phenomenal strike rate of 234.69.
The bargain buys
Sikandar Raza broke an eight-year barren run when he became the first Zimbabwean to be bought at an IPL auction since Brendan Taylor in 2014. At his base price of INR 50 lakh, Raza could be a steal for Punjab, given the form he's been in. Raza was the top run-getter (219 at a strike rate of 147) and second highest wicket-taker (ten wickets) for Zimbabwe at the T20 World Cup.
"As a friend, I wish someone picks him," Hardik Pandya said with a laugh, when asked about Kane Williamson at a press conference prior to India's T20I series against New Zealand last month. Now, they will team up at Gujarat Titans, who secured Williamson's services at his base price of INR 2 crore. At Titans, Williamson will also be reunited with his one-time Sunrisers team-mate Rashid Khan.
Having played just one IPL game so far, in 2021 for Punjab Kings, Adil Rashid will hope for a happier second stint. At INR 2 crore, the England legspinner was a steal for Sunrisers, who may have perhaps been surprised at the lack of competition. A key member of England's T20 World Cup-winning squad, Rashid has an excellent wrong'un, bowls ripping legbreaks, and he can bowl in the powerplay too. And he'll probably be among the most explosive batting options at No. 10.
Royal Challengers' new signing Reece Topley had missed out on England's T20 World Cup squad because of injury but he had a run of impressive performances in the lead-up to the tournament. Topley's height allows him to extract steep bounce even on docile surfaces and he has the ability to move the ball both ways. With Josh Hazlewood's workload likely to be monitored, given Australia have potentially the World Test Championship final and Ashes coming up after the IPL, Topley is an excellent back-up option for Royal Challengers at a base price of INR 1.5 crore.
"We wanted to have a like-for-like replacement for Jason Behrendorff," RCB head coach Sanjay Bangar said. "We've kept tab on most of the left-armers available. Josh isn't going to be available for the first few games, so we looked at availability of players and that's where Topley fit in really well. To get a high-quality performer like him adds strength to our squad."
Knight Riders - the silent spectators
Having come into the auction with the smallest purse (INR 7.05 crore), Knight Riders patiently watched proceedings; they entered the bidding just once - for South Africa batter Heinrich Klaasen - as the other franchises snapped up the first 38 players.
Curiously, Knight Riders were willing to spend INR 2.4 crore on the uncapped Jammu & Kashmir allrounder Vivrant Sharma, who was eventually bought by Sunrisers.
They came alive when they made aggressive bids to get an Indian wicketkeeper, having let B Indrajith and Sheldon Jackson go. They eventually got in-form N Jagadeesan for INR 90 lakh. Jagadeesan has been in the form of his life recently, having racked up a record five List A centuries last month.
After buying Jagadeesan, Knight Riders bought back allrounder Vaibhav Arora and tried hard to buy back fast bowler Shivam Mavi. Having released Mavi to free up INR 7.75 crore for this auction, Knight Riders went as far as INR 1 crore before bailing out. Mavi eventually went to the Titans for INR 6 crore.
Towards the end of the auction, KKR snapped up overseas allrounders Shakib Al Hasan and David Wiese, and Bangladesh opener Litton Das to strengthen their squad.
The notable uncapped Indian signings
At a trial held to scout for talent in Jammu & Kashmir, one player - Vivrant Sharma - made a mark with his composure and shot selection against pace. On Friday, those impressions translated into an IPL contract for the 23-year-old allrounder when Sunrisers signed him for INR 2.6 crore, having been part of their camp as a net bowler for IPL 2022. In addition to his big hitting, Vivrant also bowls fast legbreaks and googlies.
Eight years ago, Mukesh Kumar was told he couldn't play cricket. He was anaemic and the bone edema in his knees was supposed to make bowling impossible. Yet, he persevered and made a mark in Bengal's competitive club circuit and also the Ranji team.
A stellar performance in 2019-20, when Bengal made the Ranji Trophy final, proved to be the turning point as Mukesh built on his breakout season to earn an India A and a national call-up earlier this year. He was meant to come in as a replacement player in 2021 for RCB but missed out after contracting Covid-19. Earlier this year, he was a net bowler for Delhi Capitals and now he's part of their squad for a price of INR 5.5 crore, the second-highest amount spent on an uncapped Indian player this auction.
Last-minute shopping
There was a flurry of activity right at the end of the auction, as teams filled up slots with players during the accelerated phase. Delhi picked up South African batter Rilee Rossouw - who was unsold earlier - for INR 4.6 crore; KKR got Shakib and Royals got Adam Zampa for INR 1.5 crore each; And England's Joe Root secured a maiden IPL contract - also with the Royals - at his INR 1 crore base price.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo