The IPL auctions featured prominent pacers such as Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Harshal Patel, and Alzari Joseph, all securing substantial contracts. However, amid the apparent completion of high-profile bowler signings, a surprising addition emerged in the form of Australian left-arm pacer Spencer Johnson.
At 28 years old, Johnson entered the auction with a base price of Rs 50 lakh, triggering a competitive bidding war between Delhi Capitals (DC) and Gujarat Titans (GT). Ultimately, GT successfully acquired his services with a staggering bid of Rs 10 crore.
Reflecting on his unexpected success, Johnson initially harboured doubts about finding a franchise during the IPL mini-auction, especially considering that just a year ago, he had not played a single T20I match. Yet, on December 19, 2023, he became an IPL millionaire.
Currently playing for Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League (BBL), Johnson has amassed 17 wickets in 20 T20 domestic matches. In the BBL, he featured in 12 matches, claiming 10 scalps with an economy rate of 7.81.
Gujarat Titans successfully acquired Johnson for Rs 10 crore, adding him to their pace battery alongside Mohammed Shami, Joshua Little, Mohit Sharma, and Umesh Yadav.
Reflecting on the auction experience, Johnson acknowledged his initial skepticism and admitted that, as time passed, he began to lose hope.
“I think the longer it went, I guess you start to lose a little bit of hope. So the longer it was going, I think the less chance I had. But at the end of the day I was in a position where I was in the auction, and this time last year I wasn’t. So whatever happened was going to happen, and anything would have been a good result,” he said as quoted from ESPNcricinfo.
Nevertheless, he expressed gratitude for the opportunity. Having participated in various franchise cricket leagues, including the Hundred, MLC, and the Global T20 in Canada, he has secured nine wickets in nine games across these tournaments.
“It’s obviously a pretty special moment, I never really thought I’d be in this situation. But it was nice to get on the FaceTime back home in Adelaide [with] mum and to see her smile. It’s not just my moment, I guess it’s a moment for my whole family and they’ve been there the whole way. So for them to experience it as well, it’s pretty special,” Johnson said.
Despite the substantial price tag, he believes his true strengths lie in the red-ball format and hopes to play more longer-format cricket.
“Ideally, I’d like to play more red ball. I think my body’s just let me down over the last few years but my body’s hardening and I’m getting ready to play, hopefully, some longer format cricket, which is, I feel, my better format,” Johnson added.
Looking ahead, Johnson acknowledges the challenge of replicating his BBL performance in the IPL, considering the differences in pitch conditions.
While GT’s pace battery appears formidable, the true test for Johnson will be adapting his skills to Indian pitches, known for their unique characteristics compared to those in Australia or the West Indies.
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