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'Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata look the strongest'
Sanjay Manjrekar, Sharda Ugra and Harsha Bhogle look back at the 2011 IPL auction (13:22)
January 9, 2011
IPL auction 2011
'Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata look the strongest'January 9, 2011
Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to ESPNcricinfo. The latest IPL auction is over and to look at how things went I am joined by former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar, ESPNcricinfo's deputy editor Sharda Ugra and TV commentator Harsha Bhogle. I started off by asking them which were the two teams they thought emerged as the top teams from the auction …
Sanjay Manjrekar: If you look at this overall as a performance, the performances of Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore were the most impressive. They bid for the right players, used their money well. Bangalore went for a complete revamp even though their team did well in the last IPL. So the top two would be Chennai and Bangalore.
Sharda Ugra: Without a moment's hesitation I would say Kolkata and Chennai because of the way they picked their teams and planned and bought their players.
Harsha Bhogle: I was generally impressed with the manner in with the auction went. I will highlight two teams; I am not sure they will be best because most teams are well organised, but because of the different strategies they employed. First of all Chennai; they are the defending champions and they think they are on to a good thing so tried to hold on to as many of their players as possible. They have a settled look, they have the 'X' factor in MS Dhoni and they were excellent in the auction. They didn't go for any player above a million dollars and they got a lot of good players. Also Bangalore who came in with an agenda to go for a young and different side and they went about achieving that. Deccan Chargers are looking good and Mumbai Indians have the matchwinners. Most line-ups will become clear once you get the uncapped players in. There are some sides that have very few uncapped players; they are looking a bit attractive at the moment with the overseas players but they are a little weak on the Indian players.
AR: Which team looks the weakest?
SM: There were a couple of scratchy performances. Kings XI Punjab seemed a little confused and couldn't make the smart buys. A couple of times they stretched themselves but found that somebody else snapped those players up. So in the end, with what they have, Punjab don't look that good. Delhi Daredevils seem to be missing out on some good players. Although Rajasthan Royals have picked just eight players so far I think they have the core of their team ready and, typically, they will go in with some uncapped local players. Although it may seem they may have not bought too many players, they still are a decent team. So as far as bidding is concerned, the two scratchy performances would be Punjab and Delhi.
SU: Kochi looks a little bit confused. The numbers are not quite complete with Rajasthan and Punjab and you wonder what's going on there. But given that these three teams have been in legal difficulties with the BCCI, we shouldn't be surprised.
HB: Looking at weak sides, two teams stand out: Rajasthan and Punjab. But I do believe that the Shane Warne factor and the fact that they have a few matchwinners means they will take care of themselves. But Punjab have a lot of work to do; they have only four Indian players - they have a purse left but they have to go out and get players. They have picked players like Stuart Broad and Ryan Harris; some of their players are injured and you don't know how much they will be available, so the supporters of Punjab will be a touch disappointed with the way their teams has ended up.
AR: Who are the five best buys?
SM: Players who have been retained have been important players for those franchises. Outside of those I think Kolkata Knight Riders made a couple of very good buys. They had taken the bold decision to not have any relationship with the Bengal icon Sourav Ganguly, so apart from that being a courageous decision, they were also bold in going for two two million dollar players with Yusuf Pathan and Gautam Gambhir; probably not so much for Gambhir's Twenty20 skills as his leadership skills and the captaincy spark he has shown in recent times. Dale Steyn was also an important buy.
SU: In terms of how cheap they came, Graeme Smith's name comes to mind immediately. You would want to think VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid but that is somewhat of a sentimental choice. Shakib Al Hasan is another one, but I am struggling to come up with a fifth name.
|I can see the incentive to play for India in this but they will have to find a way of rewarding the Indian players who are just one rung lower than first-class cricket but who are very good Twenty20 players, because as of now you are looking at their ability in first-class cricket and rewarding them with T20 slots. They will need to work out those brackets' they have thought it thorough but there are some anomalies in the system Harsha Bhogle|
HB: There were some very interesting. In terms of value for money, the best buy was probably Mike Hussey for Chennai for $400,000. He is a proven player, Chennai like him, they can open with him or play him in the middle so they have a very good deal with him. Bangalore got a couple of very good deals with Daniel Vettori and Tillakaratne Dilshan. I am not looking at the very big deals of the Yuvrajs, the Uthappas, the Pathans and the Gambhirs.
AR: Where do you think the teams might have overpaid?
SM: They have taken a huge risk with Irfan Pathan. There is no doubting his talent, but even when he was fully fit he wasn't quite delivering as he had in the past and in the recent past he hasn't even played too much cricket. So to go for $1.9m was a bit unexpected. Jaidev Unadkat would be very happy with what he got, as would Umesh Yadav. They are really untested material but would have benefited from the kind of stories going around them that they are stars of the future so they were lucky. Robin Uthappa as well, very highly paid. But the team that picked him needed something of his kind. But Ravindra Jadeja going for $950,000 was the biggest surprise for me.
SU: You would have to say that Piyush Chawla was the most over-paid. A lot of the Indians got paid far too much for what they can even offer a team, Yadav, Chawla primarily. You would also have to ask a few questions about some of the younger Indian batsmen. You don't know how they will do. A lot of the Indians have been overpaid - it's not fair to them but that is how the demand and supply seems to work in the IPL.
HB: Straight up front Daniel Christian for $950,000 and Piyush Chawla who went for about $900,000. Some of the Indian fast bowlers were very lucky as well, though lucky is a relative term. Some might think Irfan as well but I think Delhi have taken a punt and have trusted his honesty and his fitness levels that he will come back fully ready because he has underperformed in the last two editions. If he comes back fully fit he is a very valuable Twenty20 player. But $1.9M for Irfan is going out on a limb a little bit.
AR: What did you make of BCCI's handling of the uncapped players?
SM: There are lot of people who feel that there is a huge gap between the capped and uncapped players. But there is no intention of depriving the uncapped players. All they can do to get themselves on the higher pay scale is to work hard at the first -class level and earn an international cap. That is perhaps what the Governing Council is trying to tell these players; that they would always remain in that bracket if you make IPL your focus and not earn the India cap. So that is one way to get them motivated to play for India and earn the international cap rather than just playing for the IPL.
SU: The uncapped players are going to become a bit of a controversy over the next few days and will keep the IPL in the news for the next few days, which will make them happy. I think it has been handled unfairly because they were given options as to how they could handle it by the franchises but they chose not to. What they have done is left the entire business open to underhand deals, under the table offers made to players and players acting a bit sulky over what they will be given. I think they have left themselves open to controversy and bad stories coming out of the IPL for many months now.
HB: I think the BCCI is a little hamstrung on this issue. The uncapped players are now in three categories: Rs 10, 20 and 30 lakhs. If they had made that an open market there was fear that some of the richer franchises would buy them all over. There was also the feeling that they may not want to play Ranji trophy cricket so this is a bit of reward for seniority and playing Ranji. But what it means and the most stark example of that was Manish Pandey and Saurabh Tiwary who came in as young U19 players for Mumbai Indians in the first year. Tiwary hung around there and had a very good IPL 3. Pandey had a very good IPL 2 but didn't get that one game that Tiwary got to play for India. As a result one goes into the 10-lakh category and one goes into the seven crore category. I can see the incentive to play for India in this but they will have to find a way of rewarding the Indian players who are just one rung lower than first-class cricket but who are very good Twenty20 players, because as of now you are looking at their ability in first-class cricket and rewarding them with T20 slots. They will need to work out those brackets. They have thought it through but there are some anomalies in the system.
AR: What did you make of the auction process. Could it have been better?
SM: Towards the end it became a little farcical and casual and it dragged on a bit too long. Once it became a TV event it is important that it is appealing to the viewers at all times. So when it dragged on with players that lot of us didn't know and most of the owners were not interested it became a drag. So maybe it should haven't been on live TV for such a long time. Also, in my assessment of Indian cricket we tend to go by emotions and public perception, but here it was cold and clinical; the owners showed a lot of maturity. They have been hard in making the choices. The past glories of players, the has-beens, emotions and respect for certain players has not taken priority it has just been their assessment of talent and how they expect that talent to deliver in two months time. They have gone for finished products and that is where you have seen the private sector corporate logic come into cricket selection and that is something I have been very impressed with.
SU: The auction of human beings upsets me to start with, but given the fact that that is what we have to live with, I think the franchises behaved quite badly with the unsold players when their names kept coming back and no one took them and you were wondering what they were doing on the list in the first place. In terms of the time, I think the IPL just needed to occupy some time on TV and make us watch till 6pm because it is part of our job. So there were mistakes on both sides.
HB: I was very impressed with the way the franchises went about it. In India we are emotional beings but this was a hard-nosed auction. Bangalore didn't bid for Dravid, no one bid for Sourav Ganguly, there was one bid coming in for VVS Laxman. The message going out clearly was: we are not here to make friends or pick on emotional basis; we are here to pick the right team and win. Obviously sometimes you get it wrong and sometimes you get it right but I was impressed with that procedure.
I think it was a little too long; there were way too many people in the auction. Getting into the auction must now become a qualifying stage; you must be good enough to get into it in the first place. As Sanjay and me were discussing, right now it looks like the U19 trials where half the city has turned up. The auction went through a huge lull when the whole process was just to get to the end because no one was interested in buying in anyway. So getting into the auction list itself should become a qualification. Otherwise I don't know what is a better method. This method ensures every team has an equal chance. Otherwise it will become like the EPL where whatever you do you know it is only a certain few teams that are going to have a chance of winning it.
AR: Thanks Sanjay, Sharda and Harsha for your views.
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