IPL 2017 February 20, 2017

Stokes and Mills in shock after 'life-changing' IPL auction


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England players attract big bids in the auction

Ben Stokes and Tymal Mills both believe that their lives have been changed overnight, after being signed for record-breaking fees by Rising Pune Supergiants and Royal Challengers Bangalore respectively during a dramatic day's bidding at the IPL auction.

Mills, who feared his career was over two years ago when he was diagnosed with a congenital back condition, has instead been catapulted to T20 stardom after attracting a bid of INR 12 crore (USD 1.8 million), the most ever paid to a specialist bowler, and a remarkable 24 times his base price of USD 74,000.

Stokes, meanwhile, sent the franchises into a more anticipated frenzy, having been earmarked as one of the marquee players in this year's auction. Nevertheless, his eventual fee was still a eye-popping 14.5 crore (USD 2.16 million), the most ever paid to an overseas signing. It completed an eventful few days for the Durham allrounder, who was last week named as vice-captain to Joe Root in England's Test side.

"It's been a pretty incredible week and, considering you normally have your most exciting times when you're playing, it's been an amazing and interesting few days," Stokes said.

"I set my alarm for 3.30am, got up and waited about 40 minutes for my turn in the auction. I was anxious, not really knowing what would happen.

"I was following it on Twitter, I didn't actually see it live. I kept on refreshing my notifications, I saw people were tweeting and then I realised that Pune had got me."

It took Stokes a while to comprehend exactly what had happened in the bidding process, given that the auction had been conducted in rupees and that Pune had swooped in late to stave off strong interest from several other franchises, most notably Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad.

"I wasn't sure how much a Crore was, people were retweeting stuff, it was complete carnage," he said. "I still haven't seen the footage.

"I hadn't thought about how much I would go for. I guess having more than one team wanting me was probably the best position to be in.

"I just wanted to get picked up and play. I haven't been able to play in the past so that was the main thing, anything else was just a bonus. I'm looking forward to getting out there and getting involved.

"Seven times my base amount - that's mental and it hasn't sunk in yet, but pretty cool to think about I guess. Hopefully I'll live up to it, win a few games and deliver on what they've paid for me."

"It's a life changing amount of money, I can't really say more than that. I'm really thankful and grateful for how it went this morning. I'm struggling to put it into words.

"It has all been a bit hectic and I haven't had much time to think about it. I'm just seriously excited about getting going."

How franchises have spent on England players in various auctions. © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

The story of Mills' signing was even more remarkable, however, given that he had entered the auction with more hope than expectation in his first season as a full-time T20 specialist.

With his back condition forcing his retirement from first-class cricket, Mills' only real ambition had been to secure some employment between now and the start of Sussex's NatWest T20 Blast campaign in the English season.

"I can't believe it. I can't put into words what happened," he said. "I did not see this coming and it took a while for it to sink in. It has been a crazy day.

"I was the lowest of the base prices because I just wanted to get picked up by a team. I didn't want to wait until July for my next cricket.

"My agent had spoken to some of the teams and there had been some interest but until it happens you just don't know what will happen."

Fortunately for Mills, he made a fine impression during England's three-match T20 series against India last month - not least, it would appear, on India's captain, Virat Kohli, under whom Mills will now be playing at RCB next month.

"When my name came up I was nervous, giddy and jumpy," Mills said. "I was on Facetime with my best mate and he just kept shouting.

"The bidding was quite slow but once it hit 10 Crore I knew it was big money, but it kept going.

"When it finished I did not know how much it was worth. When I worked it out I could not believe it, it did not seem real. It's an amount of money that can change your life. It will for me.

"I went for breakfast with Luke Wright after watching the auction and he said the back injury might have been the best thing that ever happened to me. It was sad at the time, being 22 and having to think about retiring from the game, but being able to focus on T20 has accelerated my development.

"This is my first winter on the T20 circuit. I've played in the Big Bash, have the IPL coming up and am looking forward to playing with the Sussex lads in the Blast this summer too.

"It's been fun. I've travelled the world and met some cool people. I'm grateful."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jay on February 22, 2017, 18:32 GMT

    @TestCricRox: I can see someone is feeling insecure. Well you know what ? No Indian cricketer will ever say that. If anything, they may not participate due to injury or health reasons. But nobody will voluntarily turn down an offer to play in the world's best T20 league. Keep dreaming. Speaking of cricket being a national game, that concept is quickly becoming obsolete and soon meaningless bilateral series will be a thing of the past. Only club based cricket will exist with marginal representation in test cricket limited to iconic series.

  • carl on February 22, 2017, 17:32 GMT

    get hit for four sixes in a row to lose a world cup tournament! so what, 2.16 mil comin' your way fella, teams are full of star players putting in inconsistent performances, and no name weakest links there to be used as cannon fodder to enhance the big names performances, but as they say in the classics 'build it, and they will come' - who can really argue.

  • anup104704337 on February 22, 2017, 11:55 GMT

    RCB were screwed by KKR in the auction . RCB had Mills at 7 crs , that was when KKR entered the auction bid . They very well knew that RCB didn't have Starc and were desperate for Mills . So RCB ended up paying 12 crores instead of 7 and couldn't buy any other quality backup players . This was a crystal clear strategy by KKR and it worked like magic . Sometimes teams need to be flexible and not fall prey to such traps .

  • Sanjay on February 22, 2017, 2:41 GMT

    @rustyryan: MoneyBall has been doing the rounds in cricket for a few years. I know Dravid was a fan of the book, he's now with Daredevils (I think their coach) but the knowledge has been left on his bookshelf!

    I did think about the strategy of emptying out the other team's purses too - good point - but it's a big risk if it goes wrong and you end up with an unwanted player. I'm not sure what some of these franchises employ strategy-wise but if I was the owner of a franchise, I'd want absolute accountability and a proven ROI on my investment. It's almost as if they're pulling money out of the air.

    All I can say is good luck to Mills & Stokes, not to mention several uncapped domestic players who have hit the jackpot. And they didn't even buy a lottery ticket!

  • Cricket on February 21, 2017, 14:03 GMT

    Stokes is a genuine all-rounder in all 3 disciplines and competitive which equals box office. Good to see England lads recognised for their skills. If the IPL allowed Pakistani players, you probably see a different (read better) Pakistan international team and the IPL would really be a showcase for the best 20/20 players. Is he worth the money? Dunno, not my money but good luck to him. The ICC really needs to do something about test match cricket because telephone number salaries will only encourage current and future generation to focus on this format.

  • Jayaesh on February 21, 2017, 13:09 GMT

    @JB633: Thanks for agreeing with my moot point, as far Stokes credentials in White Ball is concerned it is just one of those things an anomaly which Stokes with his skillsets will rectify soon . Roy went for less than Stokes is because currently all the IPL teams have settled opening pairs and Roy was seen as a luxury ...not only Roy but many young Indian uncapped openers didn't get picked even at there base prices which were very low to start with .

  • Samir on February 21, 2017, 12:00 GMT

    @Neutral_Cric_Connoisseur : It would be a 12 man team only if the rest of the ten are already fixed. Pune, as a result of it's purchases, are a bit short in both departments. An all-rounder needs to be able to deliver in atleast one field like a regular player in either discipline, but Stokes is a little of a "bits and pieces" player. Agreed he can win you the match on his day, but those days aren't that often. He is a good player, but cannot be expected to fulfil the duties of a great quality batsman or bowler. This is where Pune erred. The price was ridiculously high. Could have gotten a better couple of player from each discipline than one.

  • Jim on February 21, 2017, 11:48 GMT

    Stokes is a super fielder, apart from anything else. Bucket hands, very strong arm, and fast in the outfield. Now where is that kind of detail shown in all these past stats? In T20 especially, good fielding is in many ways as important as good bowling.

  • Jim on February 21, 2017, 11:40 GMT

    @StevieS. Selectors watch him play. IPL scouts watch him play. They conclude massive ability/potential. Armchair critics here conclude waste of space. I wonder who is more informed. It is easy just to look at Stokes T20 batting average, but that is remarkable lazy and limited without considering that he usually bats after Roy, Hales, Root, Buttler, Morgan and so on. In short, he only gets about 2 overs to bat for England. Averages are meaningless in that scenario. Now, if his new franchise wants to bat him at 4 or 5 he will play the sort of innings he's just played in ODI cricket in India (57* off 39, 2x6s, 62 off 40, 5x6s).

  • Mahendra Kumar on February 21, 2017, 9:45 GMT

    If Rishi Dhawan gets equal opportunity and same position to bat on, he can show better statistic than Ben Stokes at the end of the tournament. Its sure and certain

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