Travis Head cashes in after World Cup heroics as Steve Smith cops brutal IPL snub

The World Cup hero was snapped up by Sunrisers Hyderabad for $1.22 million after a fierce bidding war for his services.

Travis Head pictured left and Steve Smith right
Travis Head was snapped up by Sunrisers Hyderabad for $1.22 million after a tense bidding war between Hyderabad and the Chennai Super Kings in Dubai. Image: Getty

On the back of his Cricket World Cup heroics, Travis Head has been repaid with an IPL contract for the first time in six years. Head was snapped up by Sunrisers Hyderabad for $1.22 million after a tense bidding war against the Chennai Super Kings in Dubai on Tuesday.

Head made his IPL debut for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2016 and spent two seasons there before being released. The Aussie batsman played a huge role in Australia's success at this year's Cricket World Cup, starring in the final against India with a match-winning knock of 137 runs. After being announced as a signing by the Sunrisers, Head said he was "over the moon" to be back playing in the IPL.

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"IPL is watched all over the world, this is a great opportunity, I will try to do my best. Keep support," Head said in a post to social media. "I'm over the moon about joining the Sunrisers this year.

"There's so many great players in the team, it's exciting and I have heard so many brilliant stories about the orange army and about how loud and vocal they are and how much they support their team. Hopefully plenty of wins and hopefully plenty of exciting times and I am looking forward to joining."

AHMEDABAD, INDIA - NOVEMBER 19: Travis Head of Australia celebrates his century during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup India 2023 Final between India and Australia at Narendra Modi Stadium on November 19, 2023 in Ahmedabad, India. (Photo by Matt Roberts-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)
Travis Head celebrates his century during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup India 2023 Final between India and Australia. Image: Getty

Sri Lankan great and Sunrisers spin bowling coach Muttiah Muralitharan said Head was someone the franchise was desperate to get. "We really wanted him (Head) because we needed an opening left-handed batter," Muralitharan said on the live IPL auction broadcast.

"Adding to that he can bowl spin as well. I never thought we would get him for that price because of his performance being tremendous in the last couple of years in T20Is and ODIs for Australia. So, we were waiting for this, and we thought that we would have a tough fight with a lot of teams but in the end, CSK came and fought with us. But we knew they don't need a frontline player as they have Devon Conway, so they will stop somewhere."

Head will be joined at the Sunrisers by Pat Cummins who was signed to a whopping $3.67 million contract, flying past the previous Australian benchmark, set by allrounder Cameron Green's $3.15 million price tag last year. "Pumped to be joining SRH for the upcoming IPL season," Cummins said in a video on the Sunrisers' Instagram page.

"I've heard a lot about the Orange Army. I've played in Hyderabad a few times and loved it, so can't wait to get started. Great to see another Aussie in Trav Head over there as well. I think we are going to have a lot of fun this season and hopefully plenty of success."

But Cummins' record fee didn't last long. He was surpassed moments later by Mitchell Starc, who became the most expensive player in IPL history after being taken by the Kolkata Knight Riders for a staggering $4.42 million.

Steve Smith goes unsold during IPL auction

The fortunes of star batter Steve Smith were vastly different, going unsold during the auction. However, it is anticipated that the Aussie will likely earn a spot somewhere at a later date due to his vast IPL experience.

He will be eager to secure a place in the competition as he gears up for the T20 World Cup in the United States and the Caribbean next year. Josh Hazelwood also went unsold as did World Cup-winning wicketkeeper Josh Inglis who went in with a base price of $357,000 but was not bought by any of the franchises.

Aussies Sean Abbott, Daniel Sams, Ashton Agar, Riley Meredith, Lance Morris, Billy Stanlake, Wes Agar, Ben Cutting, Ben Dwarshuis, Matt Short, Jake Fraser-McGurk and William Salzmann all went unsold. While Mitch Marsh, David Warner, Matthew Wade, Marcus Stoinis, Tim David, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Ellis, Adam Zampa, Green and Glenn Maxwell were already retained by their franchises before the auction.

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