The IPL auction 2011 January 27, 2011

Mumbai unhappy with change in auction norms

Mumbai Indians have sought an explanation from the IPL regarding a last-minute change in the auction procedure, which they feel compromised the "level-playing field" for all franchises.

In a two-page letter (a copy of which is available with ESPNcricinfo), Mumbai referred specifically to the clause in the 'Player Auction Briefing' dated December 17, 2010, which stated that the auction of player sets would occur in random order. But on the eve of the auction (held on January 8 and 9), two hours before the final auction briefing, the franchises were sent an email containing an amendment which stated that the random order would be replaced by pre-decided 'order of the auction list'.

The clause was in paragraph 18 of the original Player Auction Briefing, which read: "Players in the auction would be divided into 'sets'. The initial sets would comprise marquee players. Subsequent sets would each comprise players with the same specialism (batsmen, bowlers, allrounders, wicketkeepers). The order of these subsequent sets would be determined by random draw that will take place in the auction room."

According to Nikhil Meswani of Indiawin Sports Private Ltd (parent company of Mumbai), who signed the letter, there was a sudden and unexplained change made to the above clause the day before the auction. "The final sentence of paragraph 18 is to be deleted. The sets will be presented to the auction in the order of the auction list." Meswani noted that this was a "fundamental change" to the auction process.

"The primary purpose of deciding the order of the auction (whether of subsequent sets or the players within the sets) through random draw in the auction room in presence of the bidders is to ensure transparency and a level playing field to all the franchisees so that all the franchisees are not only privy to the process but are treated in the same manner and no particular team receives preferred treatment," Meswani said.

According to him any such change warranted strong and justifiable reasons, which he felt were not there or explained. To clarify the matter, Mumbai have asked the IPL governing council for ten bits of information including documents.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo