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IPL 7: Players auction may turn out to be more interesting than tournament

IPL © IANS
All eyes will be glued to IPL 2014 auctions © IANS

By Manish Madhusoodan

A politician fixing the potholes prior to the election or an employee putting in extra hours before the performance management or a student waking up just before the attendance roll call, life is all about timing and doing the right things at the right time. It’s human to base our decisions on the most recent events, so is a cricketer’s value assessment at the Indian Premier League (IPL) auctions, which is coming up in February 2014. It is this moment where every cricketer is waiting for, he can neither deny it, nor be ignorant about it.

This is the time when his on-field performances during the month of January leading up to the auction date is in a way is going to decide his off-field bank balance. In writer’s opinion, IPL amongst all the Twenty20 (T20) leagues is the most important tournament of the year. Each player wishes to earn well and make a fortune.

Fortunately, December and January is a season where most countries are out playing internationals and players are showcasing their talent. Craig Simmons, with his 38-ball century in BBL along with Corey Anderson 36-ball century against West Indies no doubt are going to be hot properties in the auction. It was against West Indies last year that Glenn Maxwell scored a quick-fire 50 opening the innings, picked up couple of wicket and held onto some decent catches which made him a hot cake coming into the auction and a millionaire. Some call it destiny; some call it being there at the right moment and at the right time.

In the previous auction of 2011, Yusuf Pathan was sold for 2.1 Million USD, so in Indian terms he was drawing a salary around 10 Crores per year, this was a plain old conversion. This year, the auctions would be in INR, the fans, the players and the owners would have to do a reverse calculation to compare the current auction price to the previous one. The multiplication table of six could come in handy, as the USD-INR exchange rate is hovering at 60. 1 Million USD, and that would now mean 6 Crore INR or just 60 Million INR, latter the newly invented and accepted terminology to cleanse the confusion.

This year, the non-retained players are into the auction and will most likely have their prices re-adjusted according to their performances. The problem with fifth and sixth editions was that too many good players were concentrated with Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) teams. Now, with better spread out of portfolios in IPL7, it would do justice to their talent. Teams would hire the right people to assess a player’s true worth and match it up against the requirement of his team, and hopefully don’t make the same mistake that Delhi Daredevils made paying $1.9 million for Irfan Pathan in an assumption that he would do well.

Barring Chennai, Mumbai and Rajasthan Royals, (RR) most teams haven’t retained a lot of their players, and hence, do have cash on the table when they come to the auction. They definitely would be looking for fresh faces and hoping for a change in fortunes. This makes the auction even more exciting along with the Right To Match card, which the teams can use in case of a tie on their ex-player, if they want to buy back.

David Warner, Mitchell Johnson, and George Bailey have been in very good form in recent times, and would be hot cakes in this auction. The entire Pune Warriors India (PWI) team is up for grabs too. Aaron Finch, Steve Smith, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa could see a new owner, and hopefully won’t have to suffer from playing for a weak team.

Teams would have their eye on Kusal Perera and Quinton de Kock, who both have shone  brightly in recent times, and that would be fresh in the minds of various teams management.

Kevin Pietersen, Virender Sehwag and Jacques Kallis will be standing in the corridor of uncertainty, while the auction takes place, this could very well be the gateway to their future. While Pietersen’s case would depend on the stand England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) takes on allowing its players to play IPL, Sehwag’s case would be the most basic one, has he got it in him to deliver the goods at the fag end of his career? Kallis made his name in Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) colours, but post-retirement and age going against him, it would be interesting to see who picks him? Or maybe Kolkata will use the Right to Match for him?

Having heard about arm-twisting and favouritism in the past in auctions, one can expect a similar trend this time around. As a fan, one can only hope that it stays as clean as possible. To the writer, this IPL auction could be the make or break not just for IPL as a brand, but also for the owners and players.

(Manish Madhusoodan is a US-based software engineer who is a devotee of Test cricket. He blogs at desigiri.net)

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