IPL continues to buck the economy

shane Roar Guru

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    The sixth IPL auction has come and gone and as economies across the world continue to struggle, the Indian Premier League and its franchises continue to set the pace for sporting paycheques.

    Last Sunday the nine teams spent a combined total of $11.89 million on purchasing 37 players.

    Some cricketers became millionaires and others were left to scratch their heads wondering if they were that far away from approval.

    Contrary to the passionate views held by many, the franchise owners had a pattern, were prepared and were emotionless. Within the constraints of the system, they did well.

    Interestingly franchises assigned a significant premium to leadership skills. Holding the view that in the IPL, a leader needs not just to be tactically aware but needs also to possess the ability to bring together players from completely different backgrounds. In this temporary cauldron of diverse cultures, leaders must very quickly seek to bring cohesion.

    The ‘marquee’ players in the auction, Australia captain Michael Clarke and his predecessor Ricky Ponting, were bought quite surprisingly at their base prices, $400,000 each, by Pune Warriors and Mumbai Indians respectively.

    Both were seemingly purchased for their leadership skills rather than their modest records in the shortest format of the game. Although, Ponting made a decent case for himself in the most recent Big Bash League, scoring 236 run at a strike rate of a tick over 120.

    In the past, it has helped being an Australian player. There was a feeling – maybe sometimes justified – that Aussie coaches were getting their boys a good deal, much like football managers who sign players they have worked with before and vice versa, but it isn’t just that.

    Franchise owners are getting smarter; their money isn’t just thrown around. There is now a fairly strong perception that Australian cricketers exhibit strong commitment, are good team players and are potential match winners in the field. This is a matter of evolution.

    The majority of the franchises had a full roster, with some looking only to fill certain gaps. Because of this, many world-class players missed out on making quick buck.

    Availability also becomes an issue. Aaron Finch, Martin Guptill, Matt Prior, Vernon Philander, Ravi Bopara, Rangana Herath – players who would be welcomed into many teams worldwide – found themselves on the outer.

    Meanwhile South African all-rounder Chris Morris, who has played a solitary international T20, was picked up by Chennai for over 30 times his base price of $20,000. Morris, who has been compared to fellow countryman and hard hitting all-rounder Lance Klusener, fetched $625,000.

    Sri Lankan off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake (base price $50,000) also hit pay dirt, getting snapped up by Kolkata Knight Riders for $625,000, as did uncapped Aussie Nathan Coulter-Nile, who got $450,000 from Mumbai.

    Although Hyderabad bought South African Quinton de Kock for $20,000, wicket-keepers were the big losers out of this auction, with all 10 of them who formed the third set went unsold. They included England’s Matt Prior (base price $200,000).

    The limited number of slots and money left under the salary cap restriction of $12.5 million each forced the teams to approach the auction with specific strategies in place. The Daredevils were after all-rounders – and bought Jesse Ryder, Johan Botha and Jeevan Mendis – while teams like Pune and Hyderabad attempted to fill out their rosters with the best available players.

    All unsold players can still be signed for the new season, although only by teams that lose contracted players to injury.