First Pat Cummins, and then Mitchell Starc, broke the IPL auction record for top bid prices, going to Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders respectively for a combined INR 45.25 crore (US$ 5.45 million approx.). Cummins was sold for INR 20.50 crore (US$ 2,470,000 approx.), and Starc INR 24.75 crore (US$ 2,982,000 approx.). “It’s obviously humbling,” Starc said, adding that “it’s our shout for dinner and drinks” when the Australia Test squad meets in Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan.
“Our Test squad WhatsApp group’s been going off, letting us know that I think it’s our shout for dinner and drinks. So it might be a costly little trip to Melbourne for us for the Boxing Day Test,” Starc, now 33, said on JioCinema. “But yeah, we’ve managed to find some luck tonight, and yeah, pretty, pretty special night for the both of us, I think.
“It’s obviously humbling to still, I guess, feel like I’m wanted or needed anyway. So hopefully that experience that I’ve had for a few years now can translate into success in… obviously leading up to the IPL and, hopefully, add some of that to the KKR list.”
Starc has not played in the IPL for eight years due to fitness reasons and/or international commitments, and in 2022 because of bubble fatigue after Covid-19. Indeed, KKR will only be his second IPL team, after he turned out for Royal Challengers Bangalore, in 2014 and 2015. He was bought by KKR prior to the 2018 season, but was ruled out because of a right-leg injury. He has 34 wickets from 27 IPL matches with an economy rate of 7.16 and a strike rate of 17.
“Yeah, it’s been a while. I was obviously involved 2014 and 2015 with RCB and then picked up in 2018, but missed out with injury. And then have really prioritised international cricket and wanted to prioritise Test cricket there as well and playing as much and as well as I could for Australia,” Starc said in response to a question from former India fast bowler Zaheer Khan. “So that was my thought process leading up to obviously a number of years anyway. And then coming into the back end of this year and, and into next year, is a lot quieter on the international scene for the Australian group.
“So a great chance to get back involved in the IPL. Obviously there’s a T20 World Cup coming up mid next year as well, and a good chance to play some really, really competitive T20 cricket in the best T20 league going round with the world-class players that we see on all the [squad] lists.
“There’s a World Cup coming up [in the West Indies and the USA], and a place that in recent times us the Australian group have spent a lot of time is in India, and obviously most recently with the ODI World Cup and having some fond memories there, particularly at Eden Gardens in the semi-finals. So a player I look forward to being back as a home player and [to] a home fan base.”
While a fight to get hold of Starc was expected, and he was the frontrunner to breach the INR 20-crore mark at the auction – no-one had gone there before – watching the drama unfold was fun.
“Yeah, no, nothing I could have dreamt of there,” Starc said. “Obviously a few teams were looking to bolster their pace attacks and there’s a plethora of brilliant skill sets and names on the auction list tonight, and obviously Pat being one of them… not sure where I was going end up, but as I said, really thrilled to be part of KKR. It’s a team that Pat was at, so hopefully I can fill his boots there and, yeah, be very successful.”
With great salaries come great expectations, and that’s something Starc is understanding of.
“Yeah, no doubt there. There’ll be some pressure that comes with the territory, I guess. But having the extra experience behind me than when I was last in the IPL hopefully can hold me in good stead,” he said. “I’ve had a, a few a few ups and downs along the way over the years, but I think it comes with the territory and one you have to embrace and just try and be as successful as you can and add as much impact into a group as you can.”