Flintoff keeps his eye on Windies
England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff has played down the huge price tag on his head after being sold for $1.55million at the Indian Premier League auction.
Flintoff and England team-mate Kevin Pietersen both fetched the same record price (£1.058million), bought by Chennai Super Kings and Bangalore Royal Challengers respectively.
Pietersen, Flintoff and Paul Collingwood (signed by the Delhi Daredevils for $275,000) are available for half of the lucrative six-week tournament which starts in April but are presently playing a Test match against West Indies.
Flintoff insists the ongoing four-Test series in the Caribbean will remain his top priority.
The 31-year-old said: “I am very pleased. However, I am here playing a Test match, so my mind is full of that and the IPL is in six weeks' time.
“It's not been in the back of my mind on tour, I just regard it as a massive bonus.
“I didn't know what to expect, I went in at $950,000 so to get that, it's unbelievable really. It has not quite sunk in I guess.”
The fees paid for Flintoff and Pietersen eclipse the $1.5m paid for India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni last year.
On the two attracting the same figure, Flintoff added: “It's worked well hasn't it?
“We would not have had any problem with it (different prices) but I guess being the same might stop a few of the other lads taking the mick.”
The England players, who will be contracted to their teams and paid over two years, will actually only receive half of this year’s fee because they are not available for the full tournament.
The ECB agreed on a three-week window with the BCCI, meaning the trio will be available for every match in England’s back-to-back series against West Indies.
Pietersen said: “I'm really excited about it. It's an unbelievable amount of money and I can't wait to get out there.
“It looked like an absolute blast last year and I think the England lads just want to be involved this year in what is such an amazing tournament.”
Other England players sold were Ravi Bopara ($450,000 to Kings XI Punjab) and Owais Shah ($275,000 to Delhi Daredevils).
On ECB increment contracts, they could play up to four weeks in the IPL. Samit Patel and Luke Wright were left unsold.
Collingwood said: “I am absolutely delighted at the price tag on my head. The reserve price was $250,000 so to get a bit more than that is a really nice feeling.
“To be honest I am just happy to be there because once you get your nose in the tournament anything can happen and the cricket will be something special.
“I have now got a chance to show what I'm made of against the best players in the world.
“The fact that five guys got picked up out of seven, and Fred and KP took the biggest sums reflects well on English cricket.
“I have always known we have great talent in the side and the Indian teams wanted to see a little bit of that.”