Rising West Indies batting talent Rovman Powell has secured an Indian Premier League contract with the Kolkata Knight Riders for the new season that starts April 5. It will be his debut outing in the lucrative tournament.
At today’s auction held in Bengaluru and televised and streamed across the globe, the Kolkata Knight Riders bought Powell for the base price of BDS$88,000. The openly broad smiles on the faces of the team’s captain Gautam Gambhir, franchise owners and management, as well as their fists pumps and handshakes, suggested acknowledgement that the acquisition of the dynamic rookie at base price was a steal. Powell starred in the just concluded Regional Super50 Tournament, turning in commendable performances with both bat and ball for the Jamaican Scorpions who lost in the final of the tournament to the Barbados Pride.
Powell’s fledgling career has seen him play just four One-Day Internationals so far, but his explosive potential with the bat and promise with the ball have made him a viable investment in the shorter forms of the game. He appears a carbon copy replacement for fellow Jamaican and West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell. After purchasing Powell, the chief executive officer of the franchise, Venky Mysore, tweeted that the 23-year-old was a “junior Andre Russell”. Although retained by the Knight Riders for BDS$178 000, Russell will not be able to suit up for the franchise after being banned for a year for a whereabouts anti-doping violation.
Powell will be joined at the franchise by West Indies middle-order batsman Darren Bravo who was obtained at his base price of BDS$148,000. Bravo is currently facing disciplinary action over an offensive tweet directed at West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron and it is not known whether this will impact on his acquiring a ‘No Objection Certificate’ from the WICB to play in the IPL. The franchise has also retained the services of off-spinner Sunil Narine for a fee of BDS$2.8 million.
Also slated to make his debut in the IPL is promising wicketkeeper/batsman Nicholas Pooran. The Trinidad and Tobago 21-year-old who has played three Twenty20 Internationals for the West Indies was bought by the Mumbai Indians for BDS$88 000. He will be joining fellow Trinidadians Kieron Pollard and Lendl Simmons at that franchise. Pollard had earlier been retained for BDS$2.8 million, as well as Simmons for a fee of BDS$164 000.
Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy returns to the IPL having secured a base price $88 000 deal with the Kings XI Punjab. Sammy’s acquisition by the franchise is noteworthy as in the 10-year existence of the IPL Kings XI Punjab has tended to recruit very few West Indians. In IPL No.3 back in 2009 the franchise recruited Adrian Barath and Jerome Taylor but has since tended to look other than the West Indies for overseas signings.
The other West Indians who will feature in this year’s IPL having been previously retained by their franchises are Carlos Brathwaite at Delhi Daredevils for a fee of BDS$1.2 million; Dwayne Smith (BDS$686,000) and Dwayne Bravo (BDS$1.2 million) at Gujarat Lions; Chris Gayle (BDS$2.2 million) and Samuel Badree (BDS$148,000) at Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Eight other West Indians who attempted to tap into the big bucks were not as fortunate. West Indies Test and One-Day International captain Jason Holder had no takers this year, having previously worn the colours of Chennai Super Kings in 2013, Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2015 and Kolkata Knight Riders last year. Guyana’s fast bowler Ronsford Beaton, Windward Islands’ batsmen Andre Fletcher and Johnson Charles, as well as medium-fast bowler Kesrick Williams, Trinidad and Tobago’s Evin Lewis and Barbados’ Shane Dowrich all missed out. Though Marlon Samuels has been the bat behind two ICC World Cup Final victories, franchises were not seemingly impressed with his overall consistency and he attracted no buyers.
Today’s IPL auction was also noteworthy for the record-breaking acquisition of England all-rounder Ben Stokes. He was bought by Rising Pune Super Warriors for an astonishing BDS$4.3 million, the highest ever overseas signing. His England team-mate and Twenty20 specialist left-arm pacer Tymal Mills also fetched a massive fee, going to Royal Challengers Bangalore for BDS$3.6 million.
“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,” Stokes said.
Mills noted: “I can’t believe it. I can’t put into words what happened. 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.”
Associate countries had much to shout about, none more so than Afghanistan. Eighteen-year-old leg-spinner Rashid Khan was purchased by Sunrisers Hyderabad for BDS$1.9 million while his fellow Afghan will join him at the franchise for BDS$88,000.
England all-rounder and former Barbados first-class cricketer Chris Jordan was also bought by the Sunrisers for BDS$148 000.
Three hundred and fifty one players were up for bidding in the IPL auction in which only 76 cricketers including 28 overseas-based players could be bought. As many as 140 cricketers, including 44 overseas players, were retained, while 63 were let go by the eight franchises. Sunrisers Hyderabad, captained by Australian David Warner, were the 2016 IPL winners.