Australia’s Starc, Cummins Set Salary Records At IPL auction

(AFP) — Australian fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins became the most expensive players in Indian Premier League history Tuesday, with franchises dishing out millions of dollars for their services at the glitzy Twenty20 tournament.

Starc, who last played in the IPL eight years ago, made a smashing comeback when he was snapped up by Kolkata Knight Riders for 247.5 million rupees ($2.98 million), setting an all-time IPL auction record.

“We won, Mr Starc!” the franchise posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Starc, 33, broke the record set by Cummins earlier in the day when Sunrisers Hyderabad paid 205 million rupees ($2.47 million) for the World Cup-winning skipper.

Before Tuesday, England all-rounder Sam Curran was the most expensive player after being bought for $2.23 million last year by Punjab Kings.

“Pumped to be joining SRH for the upcoming IPL season,” Cummins, who skipped this year’s IPL because of a packed calendar, said in a video posted by the franchise on social media.

“I have played in Hyderabad a few times and always loved it so can’t wait to get started.”

Hyderabad beat Royal Challengers Bangalore in a fervent bidding session for Cummins, to claps and cheers from other franchises participating in the auction, held this year in Dubai.

Both Australians were key members of the team that led Australia to ODI World Cup victory in November, beating hosts India in the final at Ahmedabad.

Cummins had silenced a crowd of nearly 100,000 when he bowled out star batsman Virat Kohli, and was widely lauded for leading Australia to the title.

The 30-year-old made a previous auction record of $2.17 million when he signed with the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2019.

Both Starc and Cummins had entered this auction with a base price of $240,000, the top tier at which players can start the bidding for their services.

New Zealand all-rounder Daryl Mitchell was the third-top player at the auction, grabbed by Chennai Super Kings for $1.6 million.

Mitchell, 32, was also one of the breakout stars at the World Cup, scoring two centuries against India — in the group stage and in the semi-final.

– Bumper salaries –

Chennai coach Stephen Fleming said Mitchell’s performances over the last 18-24 months had “warranted this type of a price”.

“He is an unfashionable player, often goes under the radar. With his ability to play spin he is competitive and he is also a handy bowler.”

West Indies star Rovman Powell went to Rajasthan Royals for $890,000 and Travis Head of Australia will play alongside Cummins for Hyderabad after being sold for $818,000.

South African paceman Gerald Coetzee was sold to Mumbai Indians for $602,000.

But up-and-coming New Zealand all-rounder Rachin Ravindra failed to arouse much interest, with Chennai paying an underwhelming $216,000 for his services.

Former Australia skipper Steve Smith went unsold in the first round, along with fellow wicketkeeper Josh Inglis.

More than 300 players were up for grabs at Tuesday’s auction for the cash-rich tournament, likely to be held from March next year.

The IPL is a huge earner for Indian cricket and the tournament makes more than $11 billion for the economy each year, according to pre-pandemic estimates.

Last June, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) sold the broadcast rights for the next five IPL seasons to global media giants for an eye-watering $6.2 billion.

Mumbai Indians are the richest and most successful side in IPL history, with five titles to their name.

Attracting some of world cricket’s top stars with bumper salaries, the pioneering IPL helped make Twenty20 hugely popular, attracting hundreds of millions of viewers and spawning copycat events worldwide.

This year, the BCCI staged its inaugural women’s edition of the T20 tournament, earning nearly $700 million in combined franchise and media rights.