A day after snapping up the biggest buy in Indian Premier League's players' auction history, Kumar Sangakkara, Rajasthan Royals Cricket Director for IPL 2021, explained that Chris Morris, for whom RR shelled out a record Rs 16.25 crore, was bought to fulfil a specific role.
That the Royals was planning big after ending up at the bottom of the table in IPL 2020 was evident when they released a player like Steve Smith in January ahead of the auctions. And on Friday, RR went ballistic.
Chris Morris surpassed Yuvraj Singh to become the most expensive buy in IPL auction history. The South African came into the auction with a base price of Rs 75 lakh and generated bids from four teams before it became a battle between Royals and Punjab Kings.
Rajasthan Royals eventually sealed it. Morris surpassed Yuvraj Singh, who was bought by Delhi Capitals for Rs 16 crore in 2015. In 70 IPL games, Morris has scored 551 runs at 23.95 and taken 80 wickets at 23.98.
Former Sri Lankan captain and an IPL veteran, Sangakara spoke to the media on Friday to talk about RR's plans and why the franchise gave it all to secure Chris Morris.
On Morris' role: He has a specific role to play for us and that is to support Jofra Archer. His arrival gives us flexibility in the way we will use Archer going ahead. Also, Morris' numbers are as good as they can get in the game. When fit, his bowling has been strong whether at the start, middle or during death overs. He is practically top bracket if not number 1 in his ability with the ball. Crucially it frees us to use Archer in a better way.
Jofra Archer was the most valuable player for Rajasthan Royals in the 2020 IPL in UAE. Photo: File
On Morris' fitness: John Gloster our physiotherapist, and our trainers spoke at length with Morris’ trainers to study what impacted him, how did he get injured and everything else. It’s likely that with COVID, the match venues are likely to be close by which might cut on travelling. And secondly, we have Mustafizur Rahman and Andrew Tye to handle the load in case there are issues with Archer or Morris. There will be questions on Morris' frequent injuries but that can happen to anyone. The key is to have a cover.
On spending big on overseas all-rounders: In smaller auctions when teams are trying to fulfil small gaps and specific roles this happens. More than one team can have a specific player in its scheme of things. We would have loved to get him for much less but Mumbai Indians and Punjab Kings were also interested in him. So that pushed Morris to the upper limit. Same for (Glenn) Maxwell and Kyle Jamieson. They have specific roles to fulfill. Like we went for Shivam Dube. We had a specific role in mind. Dube has the ability to bat well in middle overs and him being a left hander along with David Miller gives us options.
On expectations from the pacers: Mustafizur Rahman and Andrew Tye are of course two experienced players but we have Jaydev Unadkat and someone like Kartik Tyagi who also did well for us. One has to understand that auction price is just what the team is willing to pay for a particular player. Once with the team, it’s management’s job to see that player is given right game plans, is given confidence and helped in developing skills. It’s going to be a high-pressure environment and we have to help players understand the game plan and then execute it. So other pacers, including from India, will have to take responsibility at various stages for the team.
On RR's inability to form a core: There is a big auction coming up and definitely will like to have a core squad by then. It has been a proven fact and hallmark of IPL to have a core and build a team around it. It is hallmark of success in IPL for Chennai (Super Kings), Mumbai Indians and now even Delhi (Capitals) and (Punjab) Kings have started following the trend.
It’s critical going ahead with RR too and we are planning firstly to identify our core and in longer terms, plan for bigger auction.
On Jos Buttler's batting position: This is a conversation we will have with Buttler. He is like a 360 player who can adapt to any situation. His destructive abilities are known. So before this IPL we will have a discussion we can get the best out of him.
On impact of COVID-19: I t’s nice to have advance knowledge of venues and schedule but with the kind of situation with COVID one has to be fluid and flexible and have a team which can be ready for any situation. There are lots of issues to deal with in COVID times including players' mentality, bubble, sort of grounds and pitches you will get. I think we are confident with our side to be flexible and handle any situation.