The 10 most expensive players in the history of the IPL auction

Here we look back through nearly 2 decades of history at the 10 most expensive players that have been purchased during the IPL auction and consider the impact that these newly made millionaires have had on their clubs.

Chris Morris, 2021, Rajasthan Royals, 16.25 crore

At the age of 33 (he’ll be 34 by the time the 2021 IPL ends) and with the reputation as something of journeyman cricketer is was perhaps a surprise to see South African all-rounder Chris Morris spark a bidding war in the 2021 auction that ended up with him becoming the most expensive players in the history of the IPL auction.

Seasoned pro – Chris Morris has represented 4 franchises in his IPL career with this being his 2nd stint at the Royals

Time will tell how the title of the IPL’s most expensive player will rest with the big man and he certainly wouldn’t be the first high profile buy in any sport around the world to wilt under the pressure of expectation that comes with such a hefty price tag.

However, Rajasthan Royals do know that the player they have invested in has a proven track record at this level particularly as a death bowler where his stats (as shown below) are exemplary.

Chris Morris’s bowling stats during the death overs (overs 16-20) during his IPL career – full details available here

Yuvraj Singh, 2015, Dehli Daredevils, 16.0 crore

It took 6 years for Yuvraj Singh to be displaced as the most expensive buy in the history of the IPL auction and Rajasthan Royals will be hoping that their outlay on Chris Morris provides a better return than Dehli Daredevils got on the whopping 16.0 crore they spent to bring the big hitting left hander to the capital back in 2015.

Having fought back from his cancer diagnosis in 2011 to be named in the Cricinfo best 11 for T20i players the following year you can see why franchises throughout the IPL were keen to secure Yuvraj’s signature.

Yuvraj certainly has the kind of star power you’d expect to find on a list of the most expensive IPL auction buys.

His 6 sixes off the bowling of Stuart Broad 8 years earlier had already immortalised him in cricketing folklore but by 2015 he was entering the autumn of his career. Yuvraj failed to reignite the magic of those days finishing the season with a disappointing 248 runs from 13 innings at an average of just over 19 and a strike rate under 120 meaning that he could well be considered the most expensive flop in IPL history.

Pat Cummins, 2020, KKR, 15.5 crore

Pat Cummins isn’t the first or last Australian to have been the most expensive buy of an IPL auction. Back in 2020, KKR shelled out the princely sum of 15.5 crore on the number 1 ranked test bowler but have yet to see a full return on their investment. Indeed Cummins took just 3 wickets in his first 10 matches for the franchise and at one point in the season his bowling average topped 100 – not exactly what you’d expect from a big money signing!

Pat Cummins showed glimpses of the form that KKR hoped to see from him when they made him their most expensive IPL auction buy of all time in 2020.

To give Cummins his due, he did bounce back later in the tournament with a couple of eye-catching performances but new Kolkata captain Eoin Morgan will be hoping that the Aussie quick can deliver on a more consistent basis during his 2nd year at the franchise and help to repay some of the money outlaid on him.

Kyle Jamieson, 2021, RCB, 15 crore

I think there is a good argument for this being the biggest risk in the history of most expensive buys at an IPL auction. Kyle Jamieson has exploded onto the Test arena over the past couple of seasons with a batting average in excess of 50 and a bowling average of just 13! However, his white-ball stats are less impressive and he certainly hasn’t had the exposure to the kind of profile that a big-money purchase in the IPL gets as well as the sheer quality on offer in the world’s number 1 franchise tournament.

Kyle Jamieson has had success in the more familiar surroundings of New Zealand domestic T20 cricket but how will he fair in the IPL?

RCB feature heavily on this list of most expensive buys but perhaps as they have found throughout their history, expensive signings during the auction don’t always equate to a full trophy cabinet. This is brought into even sharper focus when considering the fact that the most successful franchise in the tournament’s history in Mumbai Indians don’t have a single player on this list!

Ben Stokes, 2017, Rising Pune Supergiant, 14.5 crore

There would be some who consider Ben Stokes purchase by the Supergiants in the 2017 IPL auction to not be expensive at all. Afterall, in Stokes, RPS brought a world class batsman, a more than handy bowler, one of the safest pairs of hands in the game and a proven match winner. Essentially Stokes is 3 players in 1!

Ben Stokes talks about his success in his debut IPL season at Pune whom he joined after being the most expensive buy of the 2017 auction.

Stokes immediately went about repaying the faith Pune had placed in him by taking 12 wickets and scoring 316 runs including a magnificent hundred against the Gujarat Lions as he helped catapult his new franchise to the IPL final in his debut season in the competition.

Glen Maxwell, 2021, RCB, 14.25 crore

Since his debut in 2012, IPL franchises have spent close to 50 crore in total at auction on Glenn Maxwell making him one of the all-time most expensive players in the tournament’s history. In return for such a significant outlay, there have been a couple of decent seasons, most notably 2014 when he hit an impressive 552 runs at a strike rate of 188, finishing as the league’s top 6 hitter.

However, since 2018 his returns have been mediocre at best and yet despite this his price at auction has become progressively more expensive! Maxwell cost Dehli 9 crore in the 2018 auction, KXIP paid 10.75 crore for him in 2020 and now RCB have gone in big with a high bid of 14.25 crore for a player who has managed just managed just 278 runs in his past 25 IPL appearances.

Despite a lack of impact in the IPL recently, Maxwell has continued to score big runs in India, no doubt encouraging franchisees to keep making him one of the most expensive buys in any IPL auction he features in.

Indeed the man nicknamed ‘The Big Show’ had such a poor IPL in 2020 that he barely managed a strike rate above a run a ball and failed to hit a single 6 in the entire tournament. Still, RCB believe he is the man to lead them to a long-awaited first title and were happy to pay a princely sum at auction to secure his services for the 2021 season.

Jhye Richardson, 2021, Punjab Kings, 14.0 crore

Jhye Richardson is the 4th player on this list of most expensive buys in the history of the IPL (alongside Stokes, Cummins and Jamieson) to go for big money at the auction without ever having played a game in the tournament. However, Punjab Kings are getting a talented young cricketer who in my opinion has been the best bowler in the BBL for the past 2 seasons after finally shaking off his injury problems.

The month before the 2021 IPL auction, Richardson had finished as the leading wicket taker in the BBL

If Richardson can stay fit and continue to take wickets particularly in the powerplay then he could be just what this Punjab side needs to kick on and reach the playoffs. His expensive price at auction is further justified when you consider that he is a dangerous lower-order hitter, capable of clearing the boundary in the last couple of overs should his side need him to do so.

Yuvraj Singh, 2014, RCB, 14.0 crore

A second appearance for Yuvraj who to date is the only player to have held the title of most expensive player in the history of the IPL auction twice. At this point in his career Yuvraj was certainly still a formidle T20 batsman particularly on the slower and lower surfaces of the sub-continent where he continued to have success in the domestic leagues as well as for the Indian national team.

However, cracks in his technique against genuine fast bowling had already begun to show resulting in him being left out of India’s tours to New Zealand and South Africa just prior to this auction taking place and seeing him gradually slip down the batting order where he was less able to influence matches.

While his 2014 stats were respectable (376 runs at an average of 34, strike rate 135) he didn’t quite have the star power that RCB were hoping to get from their substantial bid at auction as the franchise won just 5 matches all season to finish 2nd bottom.

Ravindra Jadeja, 2012, CSK, 12.8 crore

An expensive IPL price tag to be sure but much like the auction buy of Ben Stokes 5 years later with Ravi Jadeja you know you are getting value for money with your investment!

Since his expensive move to CSK following the 2012 IPL auction Ravindra Jadeja has been a stalwart for the franchise. Photo by Jacques Rossouw-IPL-SPORTZPICS shared under CC license

In all forms of cricket, it’s difficult to remember too many games I’ve watched Jadeja play in where he hasn’t made a contribution. He’s a canny and accurate left-arm bowler, a swashbuckling lower-order batsman and one of the best outfielders in the world. All those traits can be quantified by his impressive IPL career statistics but then you also have to factor in Jadeja being a natural-born competitor and winner He had already won the IPL title once with Rajasthan Royals by the time he arrived at CSK where he would go onto to win it again in 2018.

His impact for the men in yellow following his expensive move in the 2012 auction was almost immediate as he delivered match-winning figures of 5/16 as well as hitting 48 off 29 balls in his second match for CSK as they crushed the Deccan Chargers.

Dinesh Karthik, 2014, Dehli Daredevils, 12.5 crore

Dehli Daredevils were no strangers to making expensive buys in the IPL auction in a bid to turn around their fortunes. Such a strategy had worked well in 2012 (they topped the robin round stage and ended up 3rd after the playoffs that year) after they had finished bottom the preceeding year and with a similar fate having befallen them in 2013 there was hope that a big name auction signing like Dinesh Karthik could help reverse their fortunes in the 2014 IPL.

Dehli were keen to bid again for Karthik in 2015 but not at the high price they’d paid at auction the year before

However, it wasn’t to be with the side from the capital managing just 2 wins all season to finish an embarrassing last place, 6 points adrift of the team above them! Karthik himself was steady if not spectacular making 325 runs at an average of 23 and a strike rate of 126 in what was his one and only season at Dehli before moving onto RCB for 2015 season.