Explosive with the bat, aggressive with the ball and sharp as a tack in the field — no wonder England cricket star Ben Stokes was a wanted man at the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) auction on Monday.
The 25-year-old attracted a record $2.16 million fee for an overseas player from the Rising Pune Supergiants — one of eight teams that take part in the annual Twenty20 limited-overs league.
Stokes was one 130 foreign stars out of a total of 359 players going under the hammer in Bangalore for the six-week tournament, which starts April 5. He will be taking part for the first time.
The all-rounder wasn’t the only English player breaking records. Paceman Tymal Mills became the most expensive specialist bowler in IPL history — snapped up for $1.8 million by Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Left-armer Mills is one of the fastest bowlers in world cricket today with deliveries routinely clocking in excess of 90 mph (145 kph).
His speed, combined with his economy rate (7.28) in the last five overs of an innings — when teams are looking to accelerate the scoring rate — made him an attractive proposition. He only competes in limited-overs competitions due to chronic back problems which prevent him playing in longer formats of the game.
Mills and Stokes both overtook the previous records for overseas players in the IPL held by former England stars Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, who were bought for $1.55 million in 2014 and 2009 respectively.
Debutant Stokes is the fourth most expensive player in IPL history behind Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Ghambir.
Veteran India all-rounder Singh was bought by the Delhi Daredevils for $2.7 million in 2015 and $2.3 million by Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2014, while his former international teammate Ghambir — an opening batsman — attracted a fee of $2.4 million from the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2011.
The IPL has an estimated value of $4.2 billion according to a financial report published in June 2016, with Bangalore rated the most valuable franchise at $67 million.