Dale Steyn was lapped up right at the end of Thursday’s IPL auction, after going unsold twice, but he was “always part of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s plans”, according to Mike Hesson, their director of cricket. Steyn was picked at his base price of INR 2 crore by the same franchise that had released him in November.
Steyn featured in just two games for RCB in 2019 before a shoulder injury cut his season short, after he had been signed midway through the competition as a replacement for the injured Nathan Coulter-Nile.
“We knew we wanted Steyn but we knew if we put a bid on him early, it might have gone up to three or four crore, which would have had flow-on effects,” Hesson said in a video posted by RCB. “It was the same with Isuru Udana as well.
“We thought Udana was going to be well sought after, so we had to slow-play that one a little bit. In the end, it worked out the way we wanted but it did require a sense of patience, which is not one of my main attributes.
“I probably exchanged a couple of hundred messages with Virat [Kohli, the RCB captain] for a couple of hours. I think he thought we went to sleep in the middle for a couple of hours as well, but he was well aware of what our planning was. He was keen at the end, as we were, to get Udana and Steyn.”
Hesson also felt new signing Aaron Finch could help unburden RCB’s superstar batting duo of Kohli and AB de Villiers. Finch, Australia’s white-ball captain, is currently No. 2 on the ICC’s rankings for T20I batsmen. “We want someone who takes the pressure off AB [de Villiers] and Virat, so we’ve got a world class player,” Hesson said of Finch. “Looking at the rankings, we’ve got three of the top five players in the world in terms of the last few years of T20 cricket so that is exciting.
“Chris Morris is a really good addition, in terms of being a three-in-one cricketer; he can bowl upfront, can bowl at the death, he’s got some power with the bat as well. Udana is exciting, in terms of especially on slower surfaces, we felt we wanted that. Kane Richardson is one of the best bowlers in international T20s for a while, so we’ve got a really good mix of players.”
Hesson said he was surprised at being able to sign Australian wicketkeeper Josh Philippe, whom he termed an “excitement machine”, at his base price. “We never thought we’d get him at 20 lakh,” Hesson said. “We had someone else in mind if he went too high.”