February 15, 2014

The alternative IPL auction

How Hyderabad and Kolkata wrestled for Ishant, and other delights from a parallel universe

"Are you going to smash into the umpire in front, or shall I?" © AFP

ESPNcricinfo's coverage of the IPL's annual money-throwing contest has been unimpeachably good, but still, despite the penetrating analysis and comprehensive fact-trawling, something has been missing. Journalists are very good at telling you what happened, but hopeless when it comes to telling you what didn't happen, what might have happened in a parallel universe, or what they dreamt about as they dozed off waiting for someone to buy Ian Bell.

So to make up the fictional deficit, here is the essential guide to the key imaginary events at this year's money jamboree:

Mallya's Millions
With enormous piles of cash in their pockets and only two days to get rid of it, the franchisees embarked on an overspend orgy, flinging money at anything that looked like it might be able to slog a few over midwicket or throw down a couple of overs of tidy legspin.

Bangalore tied with Delhi as top cash dispensers, but Vijay Mallya was determined to outdo his rivals, so kept on spending and now owns an auction-room-sized carpet, 24 tables with matching chairs, a selection of microphones, light-fittings and door handles, Ravi Shastri's moustache, Sunil Gavaskar's shoes and Harsha Bhogle's shirt buttons.

The Ishant Incident
The Yuvraj squabble grabbed the headlines, but the fiercest tussle came over the services of Ishant Sharma. At one point Shah Rukh Khan and Kalanidhi Maran were rolling on the floor pulling one another's hair as they tried to settle the matter.

A compromise agreement was proposed, whereby Ishant would play half of the season for Hyderabad and half for Kolkata, but this was rejected as it would have required Ishant to have two shirts in his wardrobe, with considerable potential for confusion. In the end, it was decided that he could sign for Hyderabad on condition that he bowled really badly, to which Ishant agreed, admitting that he was probably going to do that anyway.

Australophilia 7
The latest sequel in this popular series about the enduring love between wealthy Indian business people and random Australians told the heart-warming story of Brad Nobody, the Australian backpacker who wandered into the wrong conference room by mistake and who is now head coach of the Goa Goat-Keepers.

The Pathan Depreciation
At one time Pathan Brothers Inc. was the hottest property in Indian cricket, the Microsoft of lower-middle order flailing. Pathan, I and Pathan, Y arrived for their matches in golden carriages pulled by unicorns and walked to their personal dressing rooms over carpets strewn with peacock feathers, rose petals, and used bank notes.

Sadly the form recession has hit the Pathan brothers hard and their price bubble popped long ago. This year Irfan was purchased for $50 and a crate of isotonic soft drink and Yusuf only earned a contract with Kolkata on condition that he help empty the stadium bins and sweep up the dead moths from the outfield between games.

No IPL Please, We're British
Once again, English cricket showed its strength by refusing to have anything to do with the IPL. Out of politeness, ten players were persuaded to put their names forward for the auction, but only KP attracted any bids. An ECB spokesman said this was a good result for the integrity of the English game, pointing out that no English players had been purchased, since KP was never very English and these days is even less English than he was before.

All of the unsold Englishmen, many of whom were in tears of relief after the auction, will now be available to turn out in county cricket this spring, although one or two of them confessed to not being able to remember which county they were supposed to be playing for.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on February 19, 2014, 2:21 GMT

    Tears of laughter - thank you

  • Rohit... on February 15, 2014, 12:47 GMT

    T20 is a funny game... U never know, Ishant can be the leading wicket-taker, particularly when the players are committed to see-off Steyn & Mishra...Better be prepared to eat some of ur words... Just Kidding.

  • Rawal on February 15, 2014, 8:30 GMT

    Hahahahaha! What a start to my weekend! Thanks Andrew! Making people laugh is a noble thing in my view.

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on February 15, 2014, 6:40 GMT

    eng commited short odi and t20 tour to west indies then how their players attract the bids. I like eng players scenario in this article.

  • on February 19, 2014, 2:21 GMT

    Tears of laughter - thank you

  • Rohit... on February 15, 2014, 12:47 GMT

    T20 is a funny game... U never know, Ishant can be the leading wicket-taker, particularly when the players are committed to see-off Steyn & Mishra...Better be prepared to eat some of ur words... Just Kidding.

  • Rawal on February 15, 2014, 8:30 GMT

    Hahahahaha! What a start to my weekend! Thanks Andrew! Making people laugh is a noble thing in my view.

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on February 15, 2014, 6:40 GMT

    eng commited short odi and t20 tour to west indies then how their players attract the bids. I like eng players scenario in this article.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on February 15, 2014, 6:40 GMT

    eng commited short odi and t20 tour to west indies then how their players attract the bids. I like eng players scenario in this article.

  • Rawal on February 15, 2014, 8:30 GMT

    Hahahahaha! What a start to my weekend! Thanks Andrew! Making people laugh is a noble thing in my view.

  • Rohit... on February 15, 2014, 12:47 GMT

    T20 is a funny game... U never know, Ishant can be the leading wicket-taker, particularly when the players are committed to see-off Steyn & Mishra...Better be prepared to eat some of ur words... Just Kidding.

  • on February 19, 2014, 2:21 GMT

    Tears of laughter - thank you