‘I’ve prioritised international cricket…': Starc on IPL return after long gap | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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‘I’ve prioritised international cricket…': Mitchell Starc on IPL return after KKR buy him for record 24.75 Cr

Dec 21, 2023 01:04 PM IST

After Kolkata Knight Riders bought Mitchell Starc for a whopping ₹24.75 crore, the Australia pacer revealed why he returned to IPL after a long gap.

The last time Kolkata Knight Riders broke the bank for Mitchell Starc, he couldn't turn up. The Australian fast bowler missed the entire 2018 season of IPL due to an injury after being bought for 9.4 core by KKR. The two-time champions had little option but to release him before the next season. Since then Starc has never been available for IPL. In his words, he prioritised Test cricket, major tournaments and quality time with the family. But when he finally changed his mind and decided to list himself in the IPL auction again, it was all but certain that there would be a bidding war. And so it was. One that has never been seen before.

Mitchell Starc was bought by KKR for a record <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>24.75 crore(PTI)
Mitchell Starc was bought by KKR for a record 24.75 crore(PTI)

Starc became the most expensive buy in the history of IPL after KKR pipped the Delhi Capitals, Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Titans to rope in the left-arm seamer for a whopping 24.75 crore. He became only the second cricketer to breach the 20-crore mark in an IPL auction. The first one was his Australian team captain, Pat Cummins barely an hour ago.

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DC and MI started the bid for Starc and when it crossed 10 crore both bailed out and entered GT and KKR - the franchises with the biggest purse at the auction then. GT and KKR fought tooth and nail before the latter managed to get Starc for the record amount.

Starc said he was thrilled to be a part of KKR but he didn't quite imagine he would go for that amount. "Nothing I could have dreamt of. Obviously, a few teams were looking to bolster their pace attacks and there are a plethora of brilliant skill sets and names on their auction list, with Pat (Cummins) being one of them, and going to Dan’s (Daniel Vettori) team in Hyderabad. I wasn't sure where I would end up, but I am thrilled to be a part of KKR. It’s a team that Pat was at, so hopefully, I can fill his boots there and be very successful," he said on Jio Cinema.

Why did Starc return to IPL after such a long gap?

But what prompted a change of mind for Starc after six years? The last time he played in the IPL was way back in 2015 for the Royal Challengers Bangalore and even though he was bought by KKR in IPL 2018, he couldn't pay a single match due to an injury.

"I have prioritized international cricket and wanted to prioritize Test cricket as well, playing as much and as well as I could for Australia. That was my thought process leading up to the last number of years. Coming into the back end of this year and heading into next year, it’s a lot quieter on the international scene for the Australian group. It’s a great chance to get involved in the IPL. Obviously, there’s a T20 World Cup coming up next year and there’s a good chance to play some really competitive T20 cricket in the best T20 league with the world-class players we see on all the lists," he said.

Gambhir justifies decision to spend record amount for Starc

Kolkata Knight Riders mentor Gautam Gambhir justified his franchise bidding for Mitchell Starc. "He (Starc) is an X-factor, there is no doubt about that. Someone who can bowl with the new ball, bowl in the death overs and more importantly, someone who can lead the attack," Gambhir, who was present at the auction, said.

"He is going to be of massive help to our two domestic bowlers because both of them are very talented and you need someone to help them out in the middle and Starc covers those bases.

"It is not only about his bowling but also about leading the attack and helping all guys around him. So, somebody will have to pay for it," the former India opener said.

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