The English question, and other answers
Why was there such little interest in England players - including Graeme Swann, the world's best spinner, and James Anderson, one of the matchwinners for England in the Ashes?
One main reason is that the franchises felt some of the England players had overpriced base prices. The other reason was the question mark over the availability for longer periods - England's domestic season begins soon after the IPL, and the first round of home international matches would overlap with the IPL's title run-in. Swann has the pedigree, form and charisma (the last characteristic especially synchronous with the IPL brand) but there's one factor going against him: the trend for Indian franchises to not opt for an offspinner on the flat pitches across shortened grounds. "Unless he has a doosra or a carrom ball like R Ashwin has it is difficult to think of including an offspinner, especially because it is easy to hit an offie," one franchise official said. Of course, it helps to be Muttiah Muralitharan, who bowls economically and has shown in previous IPLs that he can keep batsmen on edge. "And franchises normally avoid foreign spinners on Indian tracks as they need to field seven Indians, so they'd be loath to waste a spot for a specialist spinner from abroad."
So why did Rajasthan Royals spend so much on Johan Botha?
The South African offspinner was picked up for $950,000 after a four-way fight that saw his value spiralling from his base price of $200,000. Rajasthan joined the bidding very very late but held on to get their man. "He is a fantastic offspinner, a superb fielder," said Raghu Iyer, Rajasthan's chief marketing officer. "He has been part of the team before, brings in the commitment. He is the current South Africa Twenty20 captain. People might feel it's a large price to pay for someone like him but I don't agree. We had our strategy and we probably paid no more than an extra $100,000 for him."
Chris Gayle went unsold, which was a shock for many. Why did franchises turn a blind eye to a mercurial, proven match-winner?
Easy one - it's due mainly to his unavailability this year. West Indies are busy during the next two IPL seasons. They'll be hosting Pakistan this year and play Australia at home and England away in 2012. And his base price of $400,000 worked against him - he would not be a bargain punt, as some others could be.
And what about Tamim Iqbal, the aggressive Bangladesh opener who seems made for Twenty20?
Two reasons. First, the numbers: though he has had a good Test season in 2010, his ODI and Twenty20 form last year was far from impressive. In 23 matches, he made 776 runs at 33.73 with one century while in two Twenty20s, he only managed 33 runs. He's also been battling a wrist injury, for which he's undergone surgery.
The other reason franchises did not bid for him was his international commitments: according to the ICC's Future Tours Programme, Bangladesh are busy during March and April so Tamim would have to miss a healthy part of the next IPL.
Why did an experienced spinner like Murali Kartik go unsold when far less experienced slow bowlers like Piyush Chawla fetched nearly a million?
It could be viewed as an anomaly in one way or just the trend of franchises to go for younger spinners. One franchise official said that with many young options on the domestic uncapped circuit, teams wouldn't have bothered to pick somebody like Kartik, who is 30-plus and not even an allrounder. To make space for a specialist spinner is really difficult, an official said.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo