Mills, on 20 February, catapulted to T20 stardom after attracting a bid of Rs 12 crore from Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). It was the highest-ever amount paid to a specialist bowler in the history of T20 cricket and a remarkable 24 times his base price of Rs 50 lakh.
Almost two years ago, England seamer Tymal Mills was diagnosed with a congenital back condition. The doctors had warned him that prolonged spells of bowling could aggravate mobility problems in the later stages of his life.
It was a moment where the then 22-year-old cricketer was left with no option but to give up on the longer versions of the game. In a bid to continue following his passion, Mills focussed on the shortest version of the game where the pressure on his back during the bowling spells was relatively less.
The story of Mills’ signing was even more remarkable, however, given that he had entered the auction with more hope than expectation in his first season as a full-time T20 specialist.
With his back condition forcing his retirement from first-class cricket, his only real ambition had been to secure some employment between now and the start of Sussex’s NatWest T20 Blast campaign in the English season.
— Tymal Mills (@tmills15) February 20, 2017
“I can’t believe it. I can’t put into words what happened,” he said. “I did not see this coming and it took a while for it to sink in. It has been a crazy day.
“I was the lowest of the base prices because I just wanted to get picked up by a team. I didn’t want to wait until July for my next cricket. My agent had spoken to some of the teams and there had been some interest but until it happens you just don’t know what will happen,” he was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
— Royal Challengers (@RCBTweets) February 20, 2017
Thankfully for Mills, a fine showing during England’s three-match T20 series against India last month would have been a decisive factor for the owners of the Virat Kohli-led RCB franchise.
“When my name came up I was nervous, giddy and jumpy. I was on Facetime with my best mate and he just kept shouting. The bidding was quite slow but once it hit 10 Crore I knew it was big money, but it kept going.
Great buy with Tymal Mills by RCB. Worth every penny. T20 is for specialists & he is a specialist pressure overs bowler. Fitness only issue.
— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) February 20, 2017
“When it finished, I did not know how much it was worth. When I worked it out I could not believe it, it did not seem real. It’s an amount of money that can change your life. It will for me,” Mills said.
By the looks of it, the career-threatening back injury was probably a blessing in disguise for Mills. Though it must’ve been tough for the then 22-year-old star having to think about retiring from the game, it also enabled him to focus on T20 cricket which in turn accelerated his development.