Family first: Starc’s $10 million IPL sacrifice

For the fourth year in a row, Mitchell Starc has opted to not enter the Indian Premier League player auction, which will be held this weekend

When 47 Australians go up for sale at this weekend's Indian Premier League 'mega-auction', the name Mitchell Starc will again be conspicuously absent.

For the fourth year in a row, Starc has turned down the chance of a multi-million-dollar contract at the world's richest cricket tournament, choosing instead to spend time with family in Sydney and keep his body fresh for Australia's commitments later in the year.

Starc, who will feature in Australia's opening T20 against Sri Lanka at the SCG tonight, is a well-paid international cricketer, but it's estimated his decision to shun the IPL has likely been a sacrifice of at least $10 million in potential earnings since he last played in the tournament back in 2015.

In the past two auctions alone, he has watched teammates Pat Cummins and Jhye Richardson be purchased for a combined fee of A$5.6m, underlining how valuable the left-armer would be on the open market.

"I was a click of the button away from entering the auction but personally didn't want to spend 22 more weeks in a bubble," he said of this weekend's two-day auction, which will be broadcast in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports from 5.30pm AEDT on Saturday and Sunday.

"There will be a time where I'd love to go back to the IPL but in terms of wanting to play as much as I can for Australia, that's a decision I've done for a while."

Having been picked up in the 2014 auction for A$888,000 by Royal Challengers Bangalore, the left-armer played two seasons for RCB before missing the 2016 tournament due to injury.

He chose to not enter the 2017 auction, which saw English left-armer Tymal Mills purchased for an eye-watering fee of A$2.3 million (Starc ultimately would have missed the tournament anyway due to injury).

Having been bought by the Kolkata Knight Riders for A$1.8m in 2018, Starc again missed out due injury, which sparked a protracted legal battle with an insurance firm that was finally settled in 2020.

He joined most of Australia's players in skipping the 2019 tournament ahead of that year's World Cup, with Indian left-arm quick Jaydev Unadkat the most expensive fast bowler purchased at that year's auction, going for A$1.7m.

In 2020, Starc again chose to not participate despite attracting interest from several franchises. It sparked a fierce bidding war for his fast-bowling countryman Cummins, who was purchased for a record fee of A$3.17 million.

The prices paid for West Indian Sheldon Cottrell (A$1.65m) and Nathan Coulter-Nile (A$1.6m) in that auction emphasise how big a pay day Starc had chosen to miss.

Similarly, the money spent last year on Richardson (A$2.5m) as well as Kiwi Kyle Jamieson (A$2.7m) and Riley Meredith (A$1.4m) prove how valuable international fast bowlers are among IPL club owners.

But his IPL absence last year did result in a win of a different kind; having skipped the tournament and subsequently taken part in Australia's winter tour of the Caribbean and Bangladesh, Starc played enough games and accrued enough votes to be crowned the Allan Border Medallist last month.

His status as a committed and prolific bowler for his country is undisputed. Since he last played in the IPL in 2015, only South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada has taken more wickets in international cricket than Starc.

And having lost his father to cancer last year and having barely seen his family since last June – including brother Brandon, who recently had a baby boy – the 32-year-old has understandably decided to put them first once again ahead of another busy year of international cricket.

Australians in the 2022 IPL auction

Base price of 200 lakh (approx. A$377,000)

Pat Cummins, David Warner, Steve Smith, Mitch Marsh, Matthew Wade, Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Ashton Agar

Base price of 150 lakh (approx. A$283,000)

Aaron Finch, Chris Lynn, Usman Khawaja, Kane Richardson

Base price of 100 lakh (approx. A$189,000)

Marnus Labuschagne, Daniel Sams, Andrew Tye, Moises Henriques, Riley Meredith, James Faulkner, D'Arcy Short, Josh Philippe

Base price of 75 lakh (approx. A$142,000)

Nathan Ellis, Jason Behrendorff, Sean Abbott, Billy Stanlake, Ben Cutting

Base price of 50 lakh (approx. A$94,000)

Ben McDermott, Kurtis Patterson, Wes Agar, Jack Wildermuth, Joel Paris, Hilton Cartwright

Base price of 40 lakh (approx. A$75,000)

Tim David, Chris Green

Base price of 30 lakh (approx. A$57,000)

Ben Dwarshuis, Matt Kelly

Base price of 20 lakh (approx. A$38,000)

Hayden Kerr, Tanveer Sangha, Alex Ross, Jake Weatherald, Nathan McAndrew, Tom Rogers, Liam Guthrie, Liam Hatcher, Jason Sangha, Matt Short, Aidan Cahill