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.”
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.” (ESPNCricinfo)
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket