Curran’s record-breaking deal made him the hottest property during a six-way bidding war in Kerala, with Test captain Ben Stokes and Harry Brook close behind as they both scored deals well in excess of £1million.
Curran’s stock has never been higher after he starred in England’s T20 World Cup triumph in Australia last month, picking up the player of the tournament and player of the final double, and his was the name on everybody’s lips as bidding got under way in Kerala.
Half a dozen teams tried to get hold of the 24-year-old but it was Punjab Kings, led by former England head coach Trevor Bayliss, who went furthest. They paid 18.5 crore Indian rupees, a figure that translates to around £1.9million and represents a life-changing payday for the Surrey man. The previous record fee at an IPL auction was held by South Africa’s Chris Morris, who fetched 16.25 crore from Royal Challengers Bangalore last year.
Bayliss, speaking at the auction, said: “I’m very happy to have him on board, he has a lot of skills with both bat and ball. We had two or three all-rounders in mind, Sam might be lucky he came up first!”
Tom Moody, formerly in charge of Sunrisers and Curran’s head coach in The Hundred with Oval Invincibles, explained his appeal to ESPNCricinfo. He said: “It’s a great example of supply and demand. There was huge demand in every team for all-rounders. It’s perfect timing for Sam given his performances in the World Cup, his age … all the stars have aligned perfectly for him to get this type of price.”
It marks a remarkable shift in fortunes for Curran, who was released by his former franchise Chennai Super Kings early in 2021 and was not fit enough to take part in the subsequent mega auction.
Stokes benefited from the same interest in all-rounders, while his eye-catching revolution as captain of England’s Test side will not have gone unnoticed given the ultra-aggressive style he advocated. He was previously a key player at Rajasthan Royals but was a free agent following his release. A broken finger ruled him out of the majority of the 2021 season and he withdrew from the following campaign to focus on his new job with the Test team.
Brook’s rise has a rapid one since making his Test debut at the end of the summer, forcing his way into the T20 side in time to lift the silverware in Melbourne and hitting three centuries in three Tests as he took centre stage in Pakistan. He was involved in a three-way battle, also involving Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, and settled for a fee that was almost nine times his listed base price.
Joe Root went unsold at his base price of one crore, just over £100,000, as on his only previous appearance in the auction in 2018. There is still the chance for Root to be claimed later in the team-building process.