IPL news February 7, 2012

Flintoff sale rigged at 2009 IPL auction - Modi


Lalit Modi, the former IPL commissioner, has said he was arm-twisted in to rigging the 2009 player auction to ensure Andrew Flintoff was sold to the Chennai Super Kings. N Srinivasan, the BCCI president and the managing director of Indian Cements, the company that owns the Super Kings, dismissed Modi's allegations as lacking in "substance or truth".

Modi, who was sacked as the league's commissioner on charges of financial irregularities and is currently based in London, also claimed that the exclusion of Pakistan players from the 2009 IPL season was because of "arm-twisting" by BCCI officials.

"I shouldn't have let that [the rigging of Flintoff's sale] happen", Modi said during an interview to CNN-IBN, an Indian news channel. He also said the IPL was no longer the level playing field on which it was built, and that rules were changed to suit the bigger franchises. He conceded there was a lack of transparency and said the tournament had moved far enough from its basic principles to affect its long-term viability.

Srinivasan, who was BCCI secretary at the time of the 2009 auction, denied the allegations. "All I can say is that there is absolutely no substance or truth in what he [Modi] is saying," he said. "If he is talking about 2009 why is he saying all this in 2012."

The most damaging of Modi's statements concerned Flintoff's auction. Asked whether it had been rigged, he said: "Yes that is a fact. I made it clear that time. That onus was on me and as chairman I should have not allowed that to happen then. I was arm-twisted to allow Andrew Flintoff to go to Chennai Super Kings. I'm to blame for that. It's a fact."

Chennai bought Flintoff for $1.55 million at the auction in Goa, making him the most expensive player at the time alongside Kevin Pietersen. In buying JP Duminy for $950,000, Mumbai Indians had effectively ruled themselves out from the bidding for Flintoff, and Royal Challengers Bangalore did not enter the bidding for him at all. Rajasthan Royals tried to keep pace, but after buying Shaun Tait they had only $1.5 million left in their purse. The Deccan Chargers showed no interest in Flintoff, and Chennai eventually got him. Flintoff, however, played only three matches in the 2009 season before returning home injured. Knee surgery then ruled him out of the 2010 tournament.

In the interview, Modi also commented on the absence of Pakistan players from the 2009 tournament. They played the first season in 2008 but the Mumbai terror attacks in November that year put their future participation in doubt. Some Pakistan cricketers were part of the 2009 auction but they did not attract a single bid from any of the eight franchises. Modi said "arm-twisting" by the BCCI "that nobody should pick them" had led to the shut out of Pakistan cricketers.

The BCCI has been under scrutiny and criticism following the decision by Sahara, the sponsors of the Indian team and owners of the Pune Warriors IPL franchise, to pull out of its association with Indian cricket. Pune Warriors did not take part in the IPL's supplementary auction held in Bangalore on February 4. Modi said that in the light of the Sahara dispute, he would not have allowed the auction to take place. "I would have not allowed the rules to be changed at first place. There would have not been a problem with Mr Subrata Roy or anybody had the rules been consistent."

The pullout he said was "a big blow" for the BCCI, which was struggling to retain its sponsors. "We cancelled the contract with Nimbus without encashing their bank guarantee. With Kochi, Sahara, Nimbus and Sony contracts going down, it's close to Rs 10,000 crores [approximately $2 billion] loss to BCCI."

Modi also criticised the IPL's decision to allow the franchises to retain up to four players after the contracts expired at the end of the 2010 season. Chennai and Mumbai Indians were the only teams to retain four players.

"The retention clause was only for first three years. All players were supposed to go back to auction after first three years," Modi said. "In the fourth year [2011] that did not happen and they allowed the players to stay back. That became a problem... [it] was at the detriment of the new teams. When the new teams come in, that's a problem for them and I had pointed it out last year. If you pull out few things the entire model is going to fall apart."

Lalit Modi turned up on India's TV screens again, earnest, confessional, talking about what had happened to the IPL and Indian cricket in his absence. One IPL team has pulled out, two more are in arbitration, a fourth in litigation, the BCCI has dissociated with its broadcast partner Nimbus, lost its team sponsor Sahara, the team itself is losing and rights are hard to sell. Modi spoke forcefully about a list of the errors committed by BCCI's honchos in the IPL and its discriminatory practices that worked against all but the two strongest teams and even admitted to wrongdoing on his part - of being "arm-twisted" by "senior BCCI officials."

During his tenure, Modi was the IPL's chief mascot and the BCCI's most energetic fund-raiser, earning the clout to twist a few arms himself. Not the meek accessory he says he was in the cases of Flintoff and the Pakistan players. Unlike the IPL's current governors, Modi ensured that the league always looked like its marketing plan. It was a shiny, megabucks, high-octane package of cricket and glamour that drew big spenders towards its bonfire of vanities. To make that happen, though, the IPL's rules became its bendy toys - starting in Modi's time itself. Sometimes the rules were applied, sometimes rejigged, to suit a few beneficiaries. Money from public auctions "tie-breakers" was kept private and team ownership patterns were equally opaque and could never really be understood.

Now in exile, Modi's new marketing strategy is to become the IPL's lone truth-teller when he is in fact the man who wrote its source code. What he said on TV is merely affirmation of what was largely known: that the IPL's glitter disguised a closed-door clique of the wealthy who, rather than playing by the rules, played with them.
Sharda Ugra

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo; Sharda Ugra is senior editor

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 10, 2012, 2:52 GMT

    why they r not playing with Pakistan and there is no Pakistani cricketer in IPL

  • Dummy4 on February 10, 2012, 2:47 GMT

    my appeal to the Indian media that they should ask BCCI to clear their position and why they are not playing with Pakistan , cricket fans are very disappointed by the steps taken by BCCI in recent times .

  • Jagan on February 10, 2012, 1:47 GMT

    Just because Pak beat England in dusty UAE, it became best team in the world? Playing on UAE pitches is as good as playing in Pak, if not better. I want to see this so called world beater Pak team visit Eng and Aus in next few months...Lets talk then. Hold your horses till then.

    As for as IPL, given a chance, every Pak player would love to play in it. Sore losers

  • Kirindage on February 9, 2012, 21:54 GMT

    @LillianThomson . You are 100% correct. I am not a pakistani, but I have to agree with you.In India cricket has become just a business. All the Indians are starting to play for money other than there country.Look at the way they play for there IPL teams and then look at the way they play for India,big difference.In Test's and ODI's combined they are only the 7th best team behind. 1. Pakistan 2. South Africa 3. Aus 4. Eng 5. Sri Lanka 6. NZ 7.Ind 8. WI. Statistics never lie and what you see is what you get.

  • Satish on February 9, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    @LillianThomson : One more thing to add.. Its not the youngsters the problem during the debacle in Australia and England.. The failure of more experienced and organized players who learnt to play the game when there was no IPL was the reason.. You can't say a IPL ruined the game of Dravid, VVS , Sehwag, Sachin and Gambhir..

  • Satish on February 9, 2012, 13:31 GMT

    @LillianThomson : Regarding comparison between India and Pakistan, it is rather unwarranted i would say.. Pakistan didn't play in grassy and bouncy wickets but on tracks similar to home.. Since it is considered as home, they have previlage to prepare their own wished tracks too.. Asad and Azhar along with Misbah put more value to wicket than any of the batsman in current players.. They are incomparable as on current form.. If BCCI need to ban T20 cricket, why not other boards too ban it before it affects their country.. Do they need to wait for the calamity to strike them? @Gizza : I wish what u say happens sooner than later.. 6 teams could have lesser matches with more options for Indian players.. Atleast, IPL wont be blamed for player's failure..

  • Satish on February 9, 2012, 13:26 GMT

    @LillianThomson : IPL does have its financial irregularities and administration issues.. From cricketing point of view, IPL is a 70 day tournament where the players play 14 T20 games.. In addition, the players play domestic matches where they play lots of Ranji games and Zonal games where they play longer format.. In addition, they have A tours too.. If at all we blame the unavailability of fast and bouncy tracks to practice in India for the debacle rather than the IPL.. Every country has the T20 leagues and we saw Aussie players playing in BBL in midst of the test series.. The performance of the player is purely dependent on how they motivate themselves.. If he is not going to give his all for intl matches, the board should give him the freedom to play in T20 leagues alone as he s good in that.. Pick other players who put extra yard to represent in other formats..

  • KISH on February 9, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    I hope this IPL gets completely cancelled. What a waste of money for such a silly game of hit and miss!! Go Modi go! Put a stop to this.

  • Girik on February 9, 2012, 11:42 GMT

    @LillianThomson, I think your point is well-made although India have had tougher opposition than Pakistan within that period. I don't think the IPL will die an instant death. I think its popularity and influence will gradually wane over time. This year's format will probably revert to the one in the first three years with 8 teams instead of 10. Now that the salary cap in many situations has been exposed to become a sham, it will be a matter of time before the smaller franchises want to get out or simply aren't making a profit out of the venture. I'm guessing there will be a 6-team season either in 2013 or 2014 then a year or two after it will close down or at least be dramatically reduced (half as long as it is now). By then another half-generation of young Indian cricketers will have damaged techniques and impatient minds but the recovery will finally begin.

  • Enamul on February 9, 2012, 9:13 GMT

    IPL is nothing but an auction drama produced by BCCI.

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