Kolkata: Steve Smith, one of the best all-format batsman and captain of Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League last year, refuted speculation about him not playing in the tournament this year after failing to fetch a proper price tag in the auction. Delhi Capitals had acquired the former Australian captain for Rs 22 million ($ 400,000), marginally above his base price.
“I am really excited about joining the team this year. I think the squad has a great set of players and has a great coach and I look forward to getting over there and creating some amazing memories and hopefully help the team go one better than last year. Can’t wait guys,” the 31-year-old said in a video released by the Capitals.
The owner of best Test average in active cricket at the moment, Smith who represented the Royals in IPL 2019 and 2020, has scored 2,333 runs in 95 matches at an average of 35.34 in his IPL career. The batsman had a fantastic season for the Rising Pune Supergiant in IPL 2017 when he amassed 472 runs in 15 matches.
The rumour mills got active due to former Australian skipper Michael Clarke’s public assertion that Smith may find an excuse to opt out from the IPL as the money is ‘‘too low’’ for him to spend so much time away from home.
“You talk about Steve Smith – if he’s not the best batsman in the world, he’s not far away. Virat Kohli is number one, but Smithy is in the top three,” Clarke said recently in his podcast.
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“I know his T20 performances haven’t been as good as he would have liked – last year’s IPL he wasn’t great. I’m very surprised he has gone for the amount of money he has, just under $400,000 – which is still good money.
“But when you look at what he was getting (last season) and his role as captain of Rajasthan, don’t be surprised if there’s a little hamstring strain the day the plane is meant to fly to India.
‘‘For him to go away for an eight-week tournament and quarantine before the tournament starts – call it 11 weeks. I don’t think heis going to give up 11 weeks away from his family and his partner for $380,000,’’ Clark felt.
When asked, a Delhi Capitals spokesperson refused to comment on the subject.