The Indian Premier League’s financial heft was again on show during its auction on Friday, where several emerging stars became millionaires.
But the headliner was England all-rounder Sam Curran, who has played in the IPL in the last few seasons but he was hot commodity after being named player of the tournament and final at the recent T20 World Cup.
He was signed by Punjab Kings for $2.25 million after a bidding war in a deal that made him the most expensive player in IPL history. It eclipsed the $2 million deal for Chris Morris in 2021.
It underlined what franchises were looking for with Curran, 24, a versatile bowler who can bowl across the different phases of a T20 innings.
As he showed at the T20 World Cup, Curran is particularly effective at the death overs with his canny variety marked by menacing slower deliveries that are hard to hit at a stage of an innings where batters are in all-out attack mode. He’s also an improving lower-order batter.
"At 9am this morning I was struggling to find a stream, it (the auction) wasn't on TV in England,” Curran told Star Sports. “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)."
Other young stars had their lives change during the auction after game-changing deals. Much like Curran, 23-year-old Cameron Green was highly sought after due to his all-round talent where he can bat in various roles and he’s sharp with the ball, especially proficient at delivering menacing bouncers due to his great height.
Unlike Curran, Green is relatively unproven at the T20 level although his talents proved too alluring and he’s seen as perhaps a long-term investment after a $2.1 million deal to Mumbai Indians in the second biggest IPL deal ever.
"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.
Like Green, Harry Brook became an overnight millionaire after landing a $1.6 million deal with Rajasthan Royals. It was a record for a batter with Brook’s power hitting proving irresistible.
He has had a recent breakout across formats with Royals banking on the 23-year-old becoming a new batting sensation having been a key part of England’s momentous Test triumph in Pakistan, where his cavalier approach for long periods had rarely been seen before in the five-day format.
The million-dollar deals are staggering amounts for the two-month IPL, which is poised to transcend a sport where international cricket had always been the cash cow due to its popularity among fans.
After 15 years, the IPL’s remarkable growth shows no signs of abating with Forbes earlier in the year reporting that franchise values were outpacing the growth of the NFL and NBA.
With the IPL making dreams come true by fattening bank accounts, it’s little wonder the tournament has such appeal for those climbing cricket’s ladder.