IPL 2021: How Chris Morris became the most expensive player

James Jose/Dubai
Filed on April 9, 2021 | Last updated on April 9, 2021 at 01.19 am
South African all-rounder Chris Morris. (AFP)

RCB opted to release him ahead of the mini auction held in February

Chris Morris admitted that his breath was taken away. Any cricketer worth their salt would be, if they were in his long bowling boots. A mind-boggling paycheck of $2.25 million for a two-month gig — who wouldn’t wish for that. But even the South African bowling all-rounder never would have thought in his wildest dreams that he would become the most expensive player in Indian Premier League (IPL) history.

There is no questioning his credentials with Morris being one of the shining lights for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, starring with both ball and bat last season, that was staged in the UAE.

Yet, RCB opted to release him ahead of the mini auction held in February. Perhaps, one of the reasons could have been Morris being on the other side of 30 and being prone to injuries.

So, it was understandable that the expectations were tempered with Morris entering the auction with a base price of Rs.75 lakh. But what unfolded in Chennai was something else, and perhaps totally out of the blue for Morris. A fierce bidding war ensued in the southern city of India, home to MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings, with RCB trying to buy back the all-rounder and defending and record five-time champions Mumbai Indians attempting to nick him.

The price had risen up to Rs.10 crore during which the Rajasthan Royals entered the fray with a bid of Rs.10.75 crore. RCB could go no further than that and threw in the towel. The rechristened Punjab Kings too got in as the price went up to Rs.16 crore. It was then that Rajasthan Royals went all out for their man, raising the winning paddle at Rs.16.25 crore.

Back in 2013, Morris had said that he hadn’t seen this much money in his life after the Chennai Super Kings had shelled out $625,000 for him, after his base price had been $20,000. Three years later, he joined the millionaires club after the Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) forked out $1 million.

But this was his biggest payday yet with the lanky all-rounder from the Transvaal region of Pretoria ending up being the costliest buy in the history of the richest, biggest and most popular franchise cricket league in the world.

Morris overtook former Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, who had been the most expensive until then when the Delhi franchise had bought him at Rs.16 crore in 2015. Pat Cummins had been the most expensive player last year after the Australian was bought by the Kolkata Knight Riders for Rs.15.50 crore.

But this put to shade to all the previous ones since the league’s inception in 2008, ever since MS Dhoni was bought by the Chennai Super Kings for $1.5 million.

The roll of honour also includes former England internationals Andrew Flintoff and the maverick Kevin Pietersen, who went for $1.55 million to the Chennai Super Kings and the Royal Challengers Bangalore respectively, in 2009.

Others were towering West Indian Kieron Pollard, New Zealand’s Shane Bond, India’s Gautam Gambhir, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuvraj Singh twice, Australians Glenn Maxwell and Shane Watson, England’s Ben Stokes twice, as well as Indians Jaydev Unadkat and Varun Chakravarthy.

IPL auctions do throw up some surprises every now and then, but this was a massive surprise, but then, franchises have their own thinking and calculations.

Kumar Sangakkara, former Sri Lankan captain and the new Director of Cricket at the Rajasthan Royals, admitted it was a steep price, but one has to pay what it takes to get the player you want.

Now, Morris will have to live up to that price tag. And as the man himself said: “You got to perform on the field, no matter what your price tag is.”

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