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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Malik Ouzia

IPL auction: Record fees splashed on Australia World Cup heroes as English troop feel pinch

A year is a long time in professional sport and, so it seems, in the auction house, too. Twelve months ago, Englishmen were all the rage at the Indian Premier League sell-in, fresh from lifting the T20 World Cup in Australia and, just as importantly, hammering India by ten wickets in their semi-final along the way.

Youngsters Harry Brook and Sam Curran were then the chief beneficiaries, the former becoming the most expensive specialist batter ever sold at auction and the latter, at £1.77million, the most expensive player full-stop.

On Tuesday in Dubai, though, it was Australia’s fresher 50-over World Cup heroes that were flavour of the day as first Pat Cummins (£1.94m) and then Mitchell Starc (£2.34m) smashing Curran’s record as they joined Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders, respectively.

There may well have been something of a scarcity tax factored into the value of the Australian quicks, who, in Cummins’ case, missed last year’s IPL to focus on international cricket and, in Starc’s, had done likewise in every year since 2015.

Nine of England’s most established white-ball players were, by contrast, missing from the auction pool having already been retained by their franchises from last season, while Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Joe Root have all opted out of next year’s tournament on account of workload concerns.

The chance, then, to gauge the extent to which England’s Cricket World Cup disaster may have punctured individual white-ball reputations have to wait until March, when the likes of Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali will be fighting for one of only four overseas slots in each franchise’s playing XI.

Jos Buttler, Mark Wood, Reece Topley and Curran are the others to have been retained, along with Will Jacks and Jason Roy, neither of whom made the final World Cup squad.

In the auction case of Brook, though, there was some early evidence of English stock in decline, the Yorkshireman, only days after hitting 31 from seven deliveries to win the Third T20 against the West Indies, picked up for £380,000 by Delhi Capitals, an almost seven-figure cut on his £1.3million price last year.

However, the fact that even Australia’s Travis Head - man of the match for his 137 in the World Cup final - made “only” £645,000 highlighted just how punchy Brook’s valuation as a novice had been and its fall 12 months on is surely as much to do with a scratchy debut campaign when, one brilliant hundred aside, he made only 90 runs across ten innings for Sunrisers.

Chris Woakes was financially the biggest English winner, picking up a £400,000 contract at Punjab Kings after a World Cup campaign in which he overcame a terrible start to rediscover some form, albeit too little, too late for the defending champions’ cause.

Gus Atkinson and David Willey also picked up more modest deals, but Adil Rashid went unsold, less a reflection on his enduring skills and more the perennial struggle for overseas spinners to land gigs in a league flush with local talent.

Of those untainted by World Cup failure, Phil Salt’s tough luck was most surprising, the Lancashire opener going ignored despite having put together a decent debut campaign for Delhi last term and, on Saturday, striking his maiden T20I hundred in the Caribbean.

Instead, Tom Curran (£141,000 to Royal Challengers Bangalore) and the uncapped Tom Kohler-Cadmore (£40,000 to Rajasthan) completed the list of English players sold, the former’s selection meaning Surrey will have six players away at the IPL when the domestic season starts next year.

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