Despite T20 cricket constantly changing, one thing that doesn’t change is the fact that every year the Indian Premier League auction throws curveballs at those of us watching. On Friday in Kochi, almost everyone could predict that the trio of Sam Curran, Cameron Green and Ben Stokes would – in some order – be the top three recruits. While that came true, elsewhere there were some jaw-dropping, head-scratching signings.

Curran became the most expensive player signed up in the history of these auctions when Punjab Kings went up to Rs 18.5 crore to bring him back to his IPL debut team. The left-arm quick and attacking middle-order batter was among a selection of the world’s top cricketers going under the hammer in this auction.

His bid surpassed South African all-rounder Chris Morris’ bid amount, when he went to Rajasthan Royals for Rs 16.25 crores in 2021. That is a mark that would be surpassed twice and matched once on the day.

Green was the second-most expensive buy after Mumbai Indians forked out Rs 17.5 crore following an intense bidding war. And England Test skipper Stokes was recruited by Chennai Super Kings for Rs 16.25 crores, matching Morris.

Curran, who attracted interest from his former side CSK among other teams, was Player of the Tournament in the T20 World Cup after his skills as a “death bowler” closing down opposition batters in the final overs turned him into a potent weapon for England.

“He is a world-class player. He will play in any world XI team, any of the top teams, he is that good,” said Kings director Ness Wadia. “He is probably one of the best all-rounders in the world if not the best all-rounder. He brings a good balance to the team.”

Wadia also told JioCinema that it was a mistake to let him go in the first place.

While the trio went to the top of the tree as expected, there were a few surprises too. Harry Brook, a highly-rated all-format batter from England’s World Cup-winning squad, was expected to generate interest. But that interest went as high up as Rs 13.25 crore. His strike rate of nearly 150 in 99 T20s coupled with experience in Asian conditions through PSL made Sunrisers Hyderabad take the punt.

“He (Brook) is young, he’s exciting, he loves finishing games off and that’s something that any team would want,” said Sunrisers head coach Brian Lara.

“Yes, it’s his first IPL but he has played in Asian conditions, he loves Asian conditions, and I believe he’s going to be one of the most valuable players in the future.”

Then came Mayank Agarwal, the Indian player who attracted the highest bid, unsurprisingly. Having captained Punjab Kings last season that saw his batting form dip, he was released by the franchise. SRH have now brought him on board for Rs 8.25 crore and looking elsewhere at the squad, Agarwal might once again be handed the leadership role.

Top 10 buys

Top 10 recruits at IPL 2023 auction

PLAYER Team Type Price
Sam Curran PBKS All-Rounder Rs 18,50,00,000
Cameron Green MI All-Rounder Rs 17,50,00,000
Ben Stokes CSK All-Rounder Rs 16,25,00,000
Nicholas Pooran LSG Wicket-Keeper Rs 16,00,00,000
Harry Brook SRH Batter Rs 13,25,00,000
Mayank Agarwal SRH Batter Rs 8,25,00,000
Shivam Mavi GT Bowler Rs 6,00,00,000
Jason Holder RR All-Rounder Rs 5,75,00,000
Mukesh Kumar DC Bowler Rs 5,50,00,000
Heinrich Klaasen SRH Wicket-Keeper Rs 5,25,00,000

Over and above base price

Now a metric of how much a player was in demand is the times over their base price that they get recruited for. This list is typically heavy on uncapped Indian players, with their base price of Rs 20 lakh and sometimes can generate intense bidding wars based on the scouting networks that the teams have in place.

Mukesh Kumar, the India A pacer (who also was part of the main squad for a recent series) generated serious interest as he went to Delhi Capitals for a total of Rs 5.5 crore from his base price. The 29-year-old Bengal pacer has had a good run in recent times in the domestic circuit. Another uncapped pacer in Shivam Mavi, released after a few seasons with Kolkata Knight Riders, also generated high interest going 15 times over his base price for Rs 6 crore to champions Gujarat Titans. The UP pacer, part of the U19 World Cup winning squad under Prithvi Shaw in 2018, has been hit-and-miss in IPL but has potential.

The third in this list is Jammu & Kashmir allrounder Vivrant Sharma. A leg-spinner and a left-hand-batter with big-hitting capabilities, he went for 13 times his base price to join a J&K contingent at SRH alongside Abdul Samad and Umran Malik.

Another one featuring in this list is Josh Little, the Irish left-arm pacer who impressed at the World Cup recently and has had a good year across the board in this format. Titans picked up the bowler for Rs 4.4 crore, nearly 9 times his base price.

Players who went above base price

Player Team Times over base price Reserve Price Rs Lakh Bid amount (Rs lakh) Country State Association Age Specialism Previous IPLTeam(s) 2022 Team
Mukesh Kumar DC 27.50 20 550 India CAB 29 BOWLER
Shivam Mavi GT 15.00 40 600 India UPCA 24 BOWLER KKR KKR
Vivrant Sharma SRH 13.00 20 260 India JKCA 23 ALL-ROUNDER
Sam Curran PBKS 9.25 200 1850 England 24 ALL-ROUNDER KXIP, CSK
Mayank Dagar SRH 9.00 20 180 India HPCA 26 ALL-ROUNDER KXIP
Harry Brook SRH 8.83 150 1325 England 24 BATTER
Joshua Little GT 8.80 50 440 Ireland 23 BOWLER
Cameron Green MI 8.75 200 1750 Australia 23 ALL-ROUNDER
Mayank Agarwal SRH 8.25 100 825 India KSCA 32 BATTER RCB, DD, RPSG, PBKS PBKS
Ben Stokes CSK 8.13 200 1625 England 31 ALL-ROUNDER RPSG, RR
Nicholas Pooran LSG 8.00 200 1600 West Indies 27 WICKETKEEPER PBKS, SRH SRH
K.S. Bharat GT 6.00 20 120 India ACA 29 WICKETKEEPER RCB, DC DC
Heinrich Klaasen SRH 5.25 100 525 South Africa 31 WICKETKEEPER RCB, RR
N. Jagadeesan KKR 4.50 20 90 India TNCA 27 WICKETKEEPER CSK CSK
Rajan Kumar RCB 3.50 20 70 India CAU 26 BOWLER
Nishant Sindhu CSK 3.00 20 60 India HCA 18 ALL-ROUNDER
Vaibhav Arora KKR 3.00 20 60 India HPCA 25 BOWLER KKR, PBKS PBKS
Avinash Singh RCB 3.00 20 60 India JKCA 24 BOWLER
Jason Holder RR 2.88 200 575 West Indies 31 ALL-ROUNDER CSK, KKR, SRH, LSG LSG
Reece Topley RCB 2.53 75 190 England 29 BOWLER
Donovan Ferreira RR 2.50 20 50 South Africa 24 WICKETKEEPER
Manish Pandey DC 2.40 100 240 India KSCA 33 BATTER MI, RCB,PWI, KKR, SRH, LSG LSG
Rilee Rossouw DC 2.30 200 460 South Africa 33 BATTER RCB
Yash Thakur LSG 2.25 20 45 India VCA 24 BOWLER
Will Jacks RCB 2.13 150 320 England 24 BATTER
Harpreet Bhatia PBKS 2.00 20 40 India CSCSCA 31 BATTER KKR, PWI, RCB
Upendra Singh Yadav SRH 1.25 20 25 India RSPB 26 WICKETKEEPER

More than 400 players were up for grabs at Friday’s auction in the southern city of Kochi and 80 players were signed up in the end.

In June, the Board of Control for Cricket in India sold the broadcast rights for the next five seasons to global media giants Star Sports (television) and Viacom18 (digital) for an eye-watering $6.2 billion.

This year, the league expanded to include 10 franchises battling it out in 74 matches, climaxing in a final in the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad in front of 105,000 fans – and millions more watching on television and smartphones.

The BCCI is also working to launch a women’s edition of the tournament next March, ahead of the next IPL season, but the details of teams and player recruitment have not been announced yet.

(With AFP inputs)