Mitchell Starc takes down Aussie cricket teammates as $10m sacrifice pays off with IPL title

The Australian veteran led the Kolkata Knight Riders to their third IPL title.

Mitchell Starc has led the Kolkata Knight Riders to their third IPL title, after the Aussie cricket star ended his eight-year hiatus from the T20 tournament that cost him an estimated $10 million. Starc bowled a superb opening spell as Kolkata thrashed Pat Cummins and the Sunrisers Hyderabad by eight wickets in Sunday's final.

Travis Head copped a brutal golden duck as the Sunrisers were bowled out for just 113 - the lowest total in an IPL final ever. Starc registered figures of 2-14 to live up to his top billing after getting $4.43 million to play in the tournament.

The Aussie veteran started the tournament slowly and had many cricket fans questioning whether he was worth the record sum he was being paid. But he returned to form as the competition went on and was unplayable at times throughout the finals.

Mitchell Starc and Alyssa Healy.
Mitchell Starc had previously opted to skip the IPL to spend more time with wife Alyssa Healy. Image: Getty

The title is just reward for Starc after he'd opted to skip the IPL for the past eight years to focus on Test cricket and spend more time at home with wife Alyssa Healy. With Starc and Healy travelling the world separately for their respective cricket careers, the IPL is usually the only window that they get to spend at home together.

By not playing in the IPL since 2015, Starc cost himself an estimated $10 million in earnings. But he ended his hiatus this year in order to tune up for the T20 World Cup - and the decision has culminated in a title.

Mitchell Starc and Andre Russell during the IPL final.
Mitchell Starc celebrates with Andre Russell after taking a wicket.

"Juggling one cricket schedule is hard enough, let alone when there's two in a relationship," Starc previously said about why he hadn't played IPL since 2015. "So I've always spent that time away from cricket with Alyssa or time with family and recharging my body for being as fit and as ready as I can for Australian cricket.

"I don't regret any of it. I think it's certainly helped my Test cricket. The money is always nice and certainly was this year but I've always prioritised international cricket and I think that's helped my game."


Kolkata went on to win the final with 57 balls to spare, with Rahmanullah Gurbaz making 39 and Venkatesh Iyer 52 not out in the chase. "Great night for KKR. What a game, what a season," player-of-the-match Starc said. "Probably the two most exciting teams in the final. We have had a fantastic squad of bowlers and batters, our staff have been fantastic to get everyone peaking."

On the pressure of his huge price tag, 34-year-old Starc said: "There's been jokes about the money. I am experienced, that's helped with all the expectations."

Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.
Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins after the IPL final.

Starc rattled Hyderabad's top order with 2-14, and all six Kolkata bowlers took wickets. Head had a brilliant tournament but fell on the first ball he faced in the final, while Cummins made 24 off 19 with the bat and took 1-18 with the ball.

"So many (positives)," Cummins said about Hyderabad's season. "The style with which the guys played especially with the bat. Lot of skills to get to 250 three times. I loved how brave the guys were. It was a lot of fun, great season."

Players will now turn their attention to the T20 World Cup, which begins next month in the USA and Caribbean. Head, Starc and Cummins will all be integral to Australia's chances of winning.

with agencies