Until now, when the world’s biggest Twenty20 party had been going on many of England’s biggest stars had been uninvited, watching on television at home while preparing for the start of the county season.
But when the tenth edition of the Indian Premier League gets underway on April 5, there will be plenty of English representation – a largely young and exciting crowd ready to be the life and soul of this cricketing party after blowing away Monday’s auction.
“It’s going to be quality to get back out to India and experience what the IPL is all about,” England opener Jason Roy told The Independent after being bought by the Gujarat Lions in a £120,000 deal.
Roy, one of world cricket’s most explosive batsmen, has been no stranger to the international T20 circuit after stints in Australia’s Big Bash and also in the Bangladesh and Pakistani Super Leagues, where he this month hit two half-centuries in just five innings.
This, however, is different. This is the big one.
“You obviously hear so much about it, and I’ve naturally watched a fair bit before, so I can’t wait. And a few of the England boys have obviously been picked up as well, so it’ll be good to all get out there.”
Roy will be joined by a raft of England teammates who, between them, help form the nucleus of an exciting limited-overs side that has been assembled under the guidance of Trevor Bayliss.
Durham’s Ben Stokes secured a £1.7million deal to play for Rising Pune Supergiants – the biggest price ever for a non-Indian player and a price-tag he described as “mental”.
His England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, was snapped up by Kings XI Punjab for £240,000, and their international team-mate Chris Woakes – who fetched around £500,000 with Kolkata Knight Riders – is also heading to India as is T20 specialist Tymal Mills.
Of England’s other hopefuls, Sam Billings and Jos Buttler will be involved too – not via the auction but on existing deals with Delhi and Mumbai Indians respectively – while Sussex left-armer Mills, who now only plays T20, is about to dwarf his previous earnings.
“I’ve seen people say it’s a positive sign for English cricket and I’d have to agree,” added Roy, who is still just 26 but has established himself as a key part of the new England.
“Seeing Stokesy break the auction record, for example, shows how just we’re progressing as a team. First though, we’ve got a massive England tour of the West Indies, which we’re all chomping at the bit for. It’s a huge summer for white ball cricket, what with the Champions Trophy coming up and it being played over here, so hopefully we can put down a marker and play some decent stuff.”
For Stokes, exactly a week after discovering he will be England’s new Test vice-captain, a substantially more lucrative deal waiting on the breakfast table on Monday morning caught him by surprise.
“I hadn’t thought about how much I would go for. I guess having more than one team wanting me was probably the best position to be in.
“I just wanted to get picked up and play. I haven’t been able to play in the past so that was the main thing, anything else was just a bonus. I’m looking forward to getting out there and getting involved.
“Seven times my base amount – that’s mental and it hasn’t sunk in yet, but pretty cool to think about I guess.”
“Hopefully I’ll live up to it, win a few games and deliver on what they’ve paid for me.”