IPL 2014 May 9, 2014

Big names on the bench

The IPL's auction system leaves overseas players such as Shaun Marsh, Thisara Perera and Samuel Badree entirely at their franchises' mercy

Shaun Marsh has an IPL average of 44.25, a strike-rate of 133.26, and he's sustained those numbers over 50 matches. He's easily been one of the most consistent batsmen in the history of the tournament. He hasn't played a single game this season, though, and that situation seems unlikely to change anytime. The situation, moreover, has nothing to do with his skills and everything to do with his nationality.

The same can be said of his Kings XI Punjab team-mate Thisara Perera. Last season, he was Sunrisers Hyderabad's joint second-highest wicket-taker and made 233 runs in 14 innings at a strike rate of 142.94, batting in the lower order.

As they have done all season, Marsh and Perera will most likely sit out their team's match against Royal Challengers Bangalore later tonight. Sitting in the dugout, watching their team-mates enjoy themselves in perfect batting conditions at Chinnaswamy Stadium, they might fight back dark thoughts of wishing injury upon them.

There is no way any team, right now, would pick Marsh over Glenn Maxwell and David Miller, given their awe-inspiring form this season, or even George Bailey. Mitchell Johnson versus Perera is even more of a no-brainer. Every season, big names have had to endure long spells on the bench thanks to the limit on overseas players in IPL XIs. It's nothing new.

You could say the likes of Marsh and Perera have little to complain about, considering the vast sums of money they are paid for simply showing up. But the players themselves have little control over their situation. When they put themselves up for auction, they have no idea which franchise will buy them, under which captain or coach they will play, or who their team-mates will be.

It's easy to draw a contrast with, say, Europe's football leagues, where players know exactly what they are walking into, and have the power to negotiate, before they sign a contract with a club. Sure, lots of players end up becoming big-money benchwarmers at clubs bankrolled by Russian billionaires, but it's a choice they have made themselves.

The IPL's auction system, on the other hand, leaves players such as Marsh, Perera and Chennai Super Kings' Samuel Badree entirely at their franchises' mercy till the end of the season. Some of them get a chance to move to other teams as part of swap deals during the IPL trading window, but most have to wait till the next auction, and hope they end up in a team that actually has some use for them.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • madhvi on May 11, 2014, 12:19 GMT

    As long as the teams are winning and present players are in form there's no need to discuss about the bench players .Although these players might have been very crucial if they were taken by other franchises and matches would have been more interesting but this is what IPL stands for-- totally unpredictable. Top players like Virat Kohli, Cris Gayle are not in form but have to play because RCB takes them as a backbone.

  • Dummy4 on May 10, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    Kings XI Punjab is on winning track and its playing Xi is in such a form that Players like Shaun Marsh and Perera cannot be put on the list of playing XI. The other part is only four international players are allowed to play in the squad.Smashers like Miller and Maxwell are in such a form that Punjab cannot afford to replace them . Seemer like Johnson has no replacement . Punjab can only do an experiment with Perera as he is an allrounder and can be beneficial for Punjab and can be an "icing on the cake".

  • Dummy4 on May 9, 2014, 19:46 GMT

    the list of wasted players... 1. CSKi - Badree, Hastings (perfect T20 players) why did CSKi pick Badree in first place as they already have 2 good spinners in Ashwin nd Jadeja. They were never going to play him. 2. DD - Taylor, although understandable as you need one good overseas batsmen on the bench. 3. KXIP - They tried to rejig their squad and played one combination in the beginning and it became a hit no reason to change 4. KKR - someone with only no brains 5. Lange, Hazlewood, Santokie - bought only bowlers shud have picked another good batsmen.. weak batting bench strength 6. RR - Not fair not 2 give chance to Cooper. Australian favoritism. 7. RCB - Least said is better. Learn biz from Mallya, You will know why. 8. Taylor & Holder - Could have tried Taylor at no 3 or 4 to provide stability to their batting order plus they dont have the muscle lower down the order to power them a good finish. Most disappointing Mumbai though..let go Maxwell, Johnson & Dhawan.. :-)

  • Steve on May 9, 2014, 19:00 GMT

    With play off spot all but assured, Kings XI should play Marsh and Thisara Perera for remaining league matches lest they remain rusty when they might actually be needed. If Yuvraj's performances don't turn around in every match from now on, this might be his last IPL. Doubt if Indian selectors will pick him for national duty anyway from now on. Except for Patel in the first few matches, the entire RCB top batting top order flopped, hence their woes in this IPL.

  • Bheemax on May 9, 2014, 17:55 GMT

    Might be a good idea for RCB to bench Yuvraj Singh. Expensive bench it will be, but based on his performance, do they have a choice any more?

  • Arun on May 9, 2014, 17:00 GMT

    Should have mentioned Ross Taylor as well. He is one of the finest strikers of the ball in modern day cricket still sitting out at the expense of KP who's not performing at all..

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