Riley Meredith, meanwhile, ‘couldn’t believe what was happening’ as bidding for his name intensified
Jhye Richardson was left feeling exhausted after he earned a “life-changing” bid at the IPL auction while his Australia and now Punjab Kings team-mate Riley Meredith termed his outcome in becoming the most expensive uncapped overseas player as “pretty outrageous.”
Richardson fetched AUD 2.48 million (INR 14 crore/USD 1.9 million) amid frenzied bidding for the pace bowler who was the leading wicket-taker in this season’s BBL while Meredith, who plays for the Hobart Hurricanes, was also in steep demand as he earned AUD 1.42 million (INR 8 crore/USD 1 million) despite being yet to make his international debut.
The pair, along with other Australia team-mates whose names were in the auction, watched the bidding late into the night during their quarantine in New Zealand while hurriedly using currency convertors and hasty notes to keep track of the ever-rising sums.
“I knew my name came up and I just got this wave of nauseousness, not knowing what to expect,” Richardson said. “For what to me felt like 20 minutes no one put their paddle up and you are like ‘oh, no’, you have no idea what’s going to happen. Then the first paddle went up and it realistically was probably five or 10 seconds but felt like a lifetime, then after that you just hope it keeps going up.
“I don’t really remember too much about it. It’s almost a blank, I was watching it but felt like I wasn’t watching it. After everything that’s happened you are obviously really excited then you hit this massive wall, it was pretty late, I had all this emotion, all the adrenaline, a load of messages coming through on my phone and then completely crashed and felt exhausted. I feel like I played a game, mentally exhausted myself. Still sinking in, that’s for sure.
“I think it’s an amazing result. It’s life-changing to be honest. And it’s so fresh, it’s only happened last night, that I haven’t actually had a whole lot of time to process it. It’s exciting. It’s almost nerve-racking. It’s all of those things, that.”
Meredith was converting Richardson’s price as it climbed and climbed, before having the same experience himself. Both players were on calls with their partners back home in Australia as the numbers rose.
“I was trying to figure it out and tell him [Jhye], it went up to a million, two million, unbelievable, and then mine rolled around and it was the same,” Meredith said. “Same as Jhye, I probably only got a few hours sleep. I was on Facetime with my girlfriend and couldn’t believe what was happening. Like it was fake to be honest, we were pretty dumfounded.
“It was pretty outrageous really, wasn’t expecting too much going on. Was hopeful for a bid or two. It got a bit out of control, luckily enough a couple of teams doing a bit of bidding and it was pretty amazing to go that high.”
Richardson has experience of bowling in India having been part of the limited-overs tour in early 2019 shortly before he suffered the shoulder dislocation in the UAE which required two rounds of surgery. However, for Meredith the IPL will be the first time he has travelled to India – or anywhere in Asia – with his ability to push the speedgun towards 150kph attracting plenty of interest.
“I’m sure it will be a learning curve and hoping to grab it with both hands,” Meredith said. “There was a bit of talk before the auction about fast bowlers being in demand this year. It was a good time to not be allocated to a franchise. Bit of right place, right time.”
The mega payday for Richardson is another significant milestone in his recovery from the injury that caused him to miss the 2019 World Cup and any chance of being selected for the Ashes. He has played one game for Australia since the initial injury but is likely to play a significant role in the T20I series against New Zealand which starts on Monday and will be making a strong push to be part of the T20 World Cup squad later this year in India.
“All the questions sort of go through your mind when you have such a long recovery or such a big injury, whether or not you’ll get back to your best,” he said. “I had a lot of amazing people around me to say, yeah, you will get back. The more I heard it the more I started to believe and when you believe in yourself that’s when you can reach your potential. It’s been an amazing journey. But it’s not over yet. There’s still plenty of things to concentrate on. This Australian tour and hoping to make it back to Test cricket at one stage.
“[The IPL] is obviously a really good opportunity again and a good challenge to showcase a few more of my skills in subcontinental conditions. I’m really looking forward to it and for me on a personal level it’s really reassuring to know that I’m sort of back to where I was shoulder-wise which is really exciting.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo