By far the two most expensive buys were all-rounder Ben Stokes and fast bowler Tymal Mills, both will have contracts in excess of $1million, a sum that is more than either could earn in a year while playing for England, and they will get that for just six weeks work.
At an IPL auction was in 2009 was the last time England players were the big story, when both Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff got contracts worth more than $1.5million. Since then England players lack of availability, and their somewhat ordinary approach to one day cricket, has meant they have not cashed in. This kind of buzz was rarely created Even after they have put their services up for sale.
English players are now playing hugely exciting, somewhat inconsistent, white ball cricket. Reaching to the final of the World T20 in India last year showed the world about their capability of tough competition. Combined with on-field success, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) management has finally awoken to the developmental opportunity that the IPL jamboree provides to its players.
Stokes was already being spoken of as the hot-ticket item in this year’s auction before it got underway, in an interview early this week he was said that it wasn’t about the money, but more about the opportunity to learn in the biggest Twenty20 cricket tournament.
While Stokes may have wanted to learn, he certainly would be pleased with getting the highest-ever salary given to an overseas player. He will be paid Rs 14.5 crore by the Rising Pune Supergiants. Only Virat Kohli will be paid more, at this season’s IPL.
Some were shocked by the bidding war that took place for Stokes’s services, but it isn’t actually all that surprising. There are two aspects that combine to give a player a massive payday at the IPL auction. The first is scarcity. A guy who can score 258 from 198 balls in a Test match and then bowl at close to 90mph is a rarity, there certainly isn’t a domestic player that can do that for an IPL team. In fact there wasn’t another player in the whole auction that has the combination of batting, bowling and fielding skills that Stokes possesses.
Tymal Mills getting Rs.12 crore was more of a surprise, but the reasons for his selection were similar. He is a bowler who can send the ball down at over 90mph, can completely deceive batsmen with his clever slower balls, and he is a recognisable name thanks to the significant success he had in India in the T20 international series earlier this month.
Mills has had an interesting couple of years. At the start of the 2015 season, shortly after moving from Essex to Sussex, he was diagnosed with a narrow spine. This congenital defect means that if Mills bowls long spells he could face significant movement issues later in life. The condition is so serious that he has been restricted to playing T20 cricket where he bowls a maximum of four overs a match. His dreams of playing Test cricket for England were over, but thanks to the advent of T20 he can still have a very lucrative career.
Mills is an automatic selection for the England T20 side, and now he has a massive IPL deal. In two years he has gone from fearing that he may never get to play professional cricket to being one of the highest paid cricketers on the planet.