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Why did Chris Morris command such a high fee at the IPL 2021 auction?

chris morris ipl
Yas Rana by Yas Rana
@Yas_Wisden 2 minute read

Chris Morris became the most expensive player in the history of the IPL today, and in doing so, raised more than a few eyebrows.

Morris was sold for Rs 16.25 crore to Rajasthan Royals, a figure worth approximately £1.61 million. The fee was marginally higher than the Rs 16 crore Yuvraj Singh received in 2016, making it an IPL record. The previous record for the most expensive overseas player was held by Pat Cummins, for whom KKR bid Rs 15.5 crore in 2020.

But why did Morris, who is by no means a global superstar on the level of either Yuvraj or Cummins, command such a high fee, with multiple franchises – including reigning champions Mumbai Indians – bidding for his services?

The simple answer is the scarcity of pace bowling options available to franchises. Indian cricket is replete with outstanding batting and spin bowling talent and while its fast bowling stocks are steadily improving, there isn’t the same level of depth in the discipline.

This means that franchises, who can only use four overseas players in their XIs, are likely to be after overseas quicks more than any other discipline, come the auction. Part of Mumbai Indians’ recent domination has been founded upon a stellar pace attack, spearheaded by local player Jasprit Bumrah, but also joined by two overseas quicks. In the 2020 final, two of their overseas slots were used on quicks, Trent Boult and Nathan Coulter-Nile.

Not only are overseas quicks in high demand, but there aren’t that many proven international fast bowlers going around available at the auction. Going through the list of overseas players available at the auction, only a handful can really claim to be proven, elite T20 bowlers; far less experienced overseas quicks than Morris commanded similarly eye-watering fees today.

Morris enjoyed a quietly excellent tournament in 2020; Jofra Archer was the only fast bowler to take more wickets and have a lower economy rate than Morris in the tournament.

When you factor that in with Morris’ ability with the bat, the move makes even more sense. Morris is a destructive lower-order hitter whose career IPL strike-rate of 157.87 is one of the best going – only six players who have faced 125 or more deliveries in the tournament have a higher strike-rate. While the eventual fee that Morris went for might be somewhat of a surprise, there was plenty of logic in the bidding war that ensued prior to his purchase.

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