Even those who are highly critical of the IPL will agree that the Indian Premier League is the most followed T20 leagues across the globe. A league that fetches eyeballs even for the player auction is meant to have a pride of place in the cricketing world. An IPL auction where some of the best players are up for grabs, not all manage to fetch big bucks. It was a similar case in the 2021 IPL Player Auction with Australia's Test incumbent Steve Smith.
His eccentrics aside, there’s no denying the fact that Smith is one of the best batters in the world. Irrespective of the format, he tends to find a way to score runs at almost every level. In this year's IPL 2021 auction, Smith was bought for INR 2.2 Crores, only a tick over his base price of 2 Crores. It came in as a huge surprise after the Aussie player was released by Rajasthan Royals as he found a new home in Delhi Capitals ahead of the upcoming season in 2021.
Steve Smith – Did he deserve the IPL auction price?
Why the surprise? For a player who has 95 IPL games under his belt (2,333 runs, Avg. 35.34, SR 129.25) with at least 300 runs in the last three seasons, we are talking about an experienced bloke. He's a calm head and provides solidity in the middle-order better than most players even in the T20 format of the game.
Only Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) were interested in Smith before the Capitals snapped him for his eventual IPL auction price. As revealed later, RCB had their own reasons of why Smith won’t fit in their scheme of things because of the team balance which requires a decent all-rounder in the first six batters. A ‘strategic auction move’, as has been pointed out by the RCB director of cricket operations, Mike Hesson, in their pre-acution planning video is now doing rounds on social media.
Will Steve Smith fulfill his IPL 2021 Contract?
Will Smith fulfill his contract? As an audience, it is tough to contemplate Delhi's thinking behind the reason to bid for Steve Smith at the IPl auction table. The likes of Marcus Stoinis and Shimron Hetmyer, who are regarded as better T20 players, alongside Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada, are near certainties in the Delhi Playing XI. When push comes to a shove, the Capitals also have all-rounder Chris Woakes casting further doubts about Smith’s role in the season ahead. It will be interesting to see what Delhi considers as their best playing in the 2021 IPL season.
Even if any of the batters fail to fire, the Capitals have Tom Curran and Sam Billings ahead of Smith in the pecking order. To put things into perspective, Smith would need a raft of injuries and features for the Capitals in this year's IPL.
The only bright spot coming out of this purchase is his modest price. With his auction price just around his base price, even if he ends up as a bench-warmer, the Capitals wouldn’t end up bemoaning the selection. The jury is still out, though, and it would be interesting to see if Smith can prove his naysayers wrong in the 2021 Indian Premier League.