April 16, 2009

Indian Premier League

Was royalty bestowed on Warne by chance?

George Binoy

The best thing that happened to the Rajasthan Royals, the inaugural IPL champions, might have occurred by chance. They never intended to buy Shane Warne at the auction but ended up with him because he was the first player on sale - or so say the authors of an upcoming book 'IPL - an inside story'.

The book has what it says is an eye-witness account of the first auction by the CEO of a franchise. "Warne's was the first name that came up as the 78 players' names were picked up. But no one was willing to pick him up at the reserve price. The auction was headed for disaster within the first few minutes.

"Since [Lalit] Modi has some interest in the Jaipur team, he made eye contact with [Manoj] Badale and Co. and nudged them to start bidding. Jaipur raised the placard, hoping other teams would jump into the fray. But no other team bid for Warne. Jaipur, it seemed, was saddled with Warne." Less than four months later Jaipur had the last laugh, and the others were left looking foolish, as Warne reinvented himself with spectacular success.

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George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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