The 2020 Indian T20 League auction had a rather surprising top buy in Australian pacer Pat Cummins. While well recognised as a top dog in Test cricket, Cummins' T20 credentials aren't exactly over the top. With players lime Glenn Maxwell, Eoin Morgan, Chris Morris and Chris Lynn in the auction table, the amount that was shelled out for Cummins - a whopping Rs 15.5 crore, the highest-ever for an overseas player - seems a tad exorbitant.
But is he really worth that fee?
Giving his input on the buy, former Kolkata player and now BCCI President, Sourav Ganguly, had said - "I don’t think (Cummins’ price being high). It has a lot to do with the demand. Especially these small auctions bringing players in go after go. Ben Stokes became a part of this small auction and that’s why his value went off the roof of 14crore."
Ganguly indeed had a point. This was one of the two small auctions after a big auction before 2018 and teams were pretty much settled on their combinations heading into the auction table. The requirements for the franchises were pretty straightforward and with the kind of money they had left, filling the right player, whatever it might cost, was indeed the right move.
The question remains, though, if Cummins is fit in the Kolkata setup and if they could have used the money on a better player or players.
A breakdown of Cummins' T20 record across leagues make for interesting viewing.
|Big Bash League||16||58.4||17||8.71|
|Twenty20 Big Bash||6||23.3||11||6.6|
|Champions League Twenty20||14||54||15||8.19|
|Indian T20 League||16||60.1||17||8.29|
|ICC Men's T20 World Cup||6||24||6||8.21|
In the major T20 leagues including the Big Bash League and Indian T20 League, Cummins goes at economy of 8 and above. His rate of picking up wickets also isn't all that impressive at 17 wickets apiece in 16 games each.
The Kolkata setup needed a pace bowling spearhead as they had to make do with Prasidh Krishna and Harry Gurney, who was struggling to adapt to the Indian conditions, for a lot of the season.
A pace bowler was in their radar and Cummins really was a buy to fill in a gaping hole in the Kolkata setup. Even when they shelled out the kind of money they did for Cummins, Kolkata left enough for overseas buys Eoin Morgan, Tom Banton, and Chris Green. They did, however, retain Lockie Ferguson and Harry Gurney too. But with Cummins in the setup, they have an unassuming, clear leader to their pace attack and his ability to intimidate batsmen and take wickets up front makes him a vital buy for Kolkata.
Cummins as a T20 player might not be worth Rs 15.5 crore and in a big auction, it is unlikely he would have fetched that kind of money, but for the Kolkata setup currently, he is an apt fit and a healthy buy.
Feature image courtesy: Ian Kingston