Ben Stokes bags £1.4m deal with Rajasthan Royals in IPL auction

• England captain Joe Root goes unsold, along with Chris Gayle
• Jos Buttler also signs for Rajasthan, while Woakes fetches £820,000

Ben Stokes’ pending court case did little to affect his market value at the Indian Premier League auction in Bengaluru as the Rajasthan Royals paid almost £1.4m for the all-rounder. But the England Test captain Joe Root went unsold.

In 2017, Stokes became the competition’s most expensive signing with a £1.7m deal with Rising Pune Supergiant and his performances earned him the award for the most valuable player. It was thought uncertainty over his availability would diminish his appeal. Stokes has a court date at Bristol magistrates on 13 February. He can be replaced should he become unavailable for the whole tournament.

Stokes will be joined at Rajasthan by Jos Buttler, who fetched around £488,000, an improvement on his deal last year with 2017 champions Mumbai Indians.

Entering the IPL auction for the first time, Root was one of three marquee players not to be purchased, along with West Indies’ Chris Gayle and South Africa’s Hashim Amla.

However, there is a lifeline for those unsold, with franchises able to request certain players return for bidding on the final day of the auction on Sunday. They may also buy unsold players outright at their base price if they have places to fill, with other sides in a similar situation able to tender bids.

Chris Woakes was the second-richest Englishman after Saturday’s auction, fetching £820,000 with Royal Challengers Bangalore. The allrounder impressed last season at Kolkata Knight Riders, who secured his services for £500,000, but was phlegmatic about being picked up this time around.

“I had similar feelings to last year,” said Woakes. “I wasn’t confident a year ago because it was a bit of a leap into the unknown. This year I put my name in the hat at the highest base price again and if I got picked up again then great. I wasn’t too sure.”

England’s ODI squad, which featured 14 of the 24 English players put up for auction, were in the air travelling from Adelaide to Perth for Sunday’s fifth and final ODI against Australia when the auction began.

As soon as they landed, phones were switched on and talk immediately turned to Stokes’ price tag, Root’s snub and Jason Roy, who had joined Delhi Daredevils for £168,750 (his base price).

By the time Woakes had stepped on to the team bus, he was up for auction and monitoring proceedings. “I saw it come through and the price going up and up. I was over the moon to get picked up.”

He called his wife, Amie, when he got to the team hotel. They are expecting their first child in July and the money will go a long way to securing his family’s future.

“It’s crazy to think as a cricketer you could earn that sort of money for the amount of time you’re going to be playing,” Woakes said. “It’s mind boggling really. This is comfortably life changing, particularly given the amount of time you’re away from home. It’s crazy. But that’s the way the IPL has been for 10 years. It’s great to see English players getting the opportunity to play in it and earn that sort of money.”

Contributor

Vithushan Ehantharajah in Perth

The GuardianTramp

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