Chris Woakes was on the England team bus when he found out he had become the Indian Premier League’s latest ‘million dollar man’, a price he admitted was “mind boggling”.
The all-rounder was snapped up by Royal Challengers Bangalore for more than £810,000 in Saturday’s auction, up from £500,000 last year, and enough to make him a United States millionaire for seven weeks work in April and May.
The Warwickshire all-rounder is as unassuming as international sportsmen get but a strong maiden IPL season with Kolkata Knight Riders combined with some well-timed performances with bat and ball in the one-day series against Australia, which wraps up in Perth on Sunday, saw him in demand for the world’s biggest Twenty20 tournament.
The draft had started while the England team were mid-air between Adelaide and Western Australia, and for those hoping to get a gig it was a case of expectantly switching on their phones as soon as the plane touched down.
There was contrasting news to come. Test captain Joe Root was one of several squad members who went unsold, all of whom will hope to be picked up on day two when franchises look to top up their rosters, while the absent Ben Stokes – who is due in magistrates’ court on a charge of affray next month – landed a bumper £1.4million deal from Rajasthan Royals despite being off the international scene since September.
As for Woakes, he explained: “There were a few things being shouted about on the flight. Jason Roy had been sold to Delhi, Stokesy went for a fortune, and we were just waiting for names to come through.
“It wasn’t until we got onto the bus that my name came through. I saw it come through on an app and I was over the moon. All the lads there and everyone talking about it was a great feeling.
“It’s crazy to think as a cricketer you could earn that sort of money for the amount of time you’re going to be playing. It’s mind-boggling really. I wasn’t even sure if I’d get picked up.
“This is comfortably life-changing. Last year I’d just got married and it certainly paid for the wedding, put it that way. It’s great to see English players getting the opportunity to play in it and earn that sort of money.”
Among the winners were Jos Buttler, who fetched £488,000 to join Stokes at Rajasthan, Moeen Ali made £190,000 to become Woakes’ RCB team-mate and Delhi Daredevils paid Roy’s reserve of £166,000.
“Of course you have to be sensitive (to those who were unsold) but guys are old enough and wise enough to know that sometimes it is a bit of a lottery,” added Woakes.
“You’re not going to go around gloating. We’re all mates and team-mates and we’ll keep that pretty low key.”
As well as a boost for his bank balance Woakes, along with Moeen, will get the chance to share a dressing room with India captain Virat Kohli and South Africa star AB de Villiers – the kind of experience money cannot buy.
“It’s a great opportunity to mingle with these sorts of players,” he said.
“When you play against them in international cricket, you don’t really get to know them, have a beer with them or chat to them. I suppose now, when you’re on the same team, it’ll be good to pick brains.
“It can only develop you as a cricketer.”