Is Mitchell Starc floundering because of record IPL price tag?

Mitchell Starc for KKR (Image: IPL)

Two matches, and 100 runs conceded in just 8 overs. Having been sold to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) for 24.75 crores, you have to question if Mitchell Starc is feeling the pressure of the price tag. Any human being would in his position. It is only natural that such an astronomical figure would weigh on his mind. However much he says he doesn’t feel the pressure, the truth is any human being would. As he concedes more runs, he could well succumb to the pressure of the price tag as many have in the past.

Sam Curran and Ishan Kishan both weren’t able to play to potential after going for staggering prices at previous auctions. It is natural because such figures are bound to be there in your subconscious mind. For Starc, the value is even higher, unprecedented in fact. Add the IPL hype to the figure, and it is a strange and unhealthy kind of pressure that Starc must be feeling. A couple of bad games, and the murmurs will start. Each ball costing the franchise a million rupees will soon start to trend. Memes will be made, and social media will go into overdrive.

This is where the question of mental health comes in. As a proud professional, Starc would be itching to perform. If his fielders drop dollies, there is very little he can do about it. And when things start to go wrong, they really do. For, in his first spell, he beat Virat Kohli multiple times, including catching an inside edge which, in most cases, would have crashed into the stumps. In this case, it went past them for four. No one will remember such things, and the only statistics peddled will tell you that Starc has conceded 100 runs in two games.

Image: IPL

The only saving grace for Starc is that KKR have won both. It means the winning momentum will make sure that the negative emotions don’t really come to the surface. Two wins in two is good enough to give Starc a longer rope. But only just. Another couple of bad games, and no all-win record will stop the criticism from going viral. The price tag will be questioned, and so will his commitment. No one will remember that it wasn’t Starc who asked for that kind of money. Rather, he too was surprised by what KKR eventually paid for him.

It yet again brings us back to the question of how much is too much? While it is great to be the highest-paid IPL player in history, it also brings in its wake a kind of pressure that is unhealthy and impossible to deal with. While one expects that Starc will overcome this mini-slump and perform in the coming matches, the truth is it will not be easy for him. The price tag will weigh him down each second, and it is a burden that he has never had to deal with before.


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