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The Flintoff deal explained

Tariq Engineer

February 7, 2012

Comments: 11 | Text size: A | A

Andrew Flintoff and Suresh Raina celebrate Zaheer Khan's wicket, Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians, IPL, 1st game, Cape Town, April 18, 2009
Lalit Modi said he helped Chennai Super Kings get Andrew Flintoff in the 2009 auction © Getty Images

Lalit Modi might have cleared the way for Andrew Flintoff to be bought by Chennai Super Kings in the 2009 IPL auction by convincing Rajasthan Royals to retain the contract of former Pakistan fast bowler Sohail Tanvir, correspondence from that period has indicated. By retaining Tanvir, Royals were left with a reduced purse at the auction and were unable to match Super Kings' bids for Flintoff.

Modi, the former IPL commissioner, told CNN IBN, an Indian news channel, that the sale of Flintoff to Super Kings had been manipulated. "That onus was on me and as chairman I should have not allowed that to happen then," Modi said. "I was arm-twisted to allow Andrew Flintoff to go to Chennai Super Kings. I'm to blame for that. It's a fact."

However, Modi did not reveal how he arranged for Super Kings to buy Flintoff but emails between him and N Srinivasan - the managing director of India Cements, who own Chennai Super Kings, the BCCI secretary at the time and now its president - appear to show that Modi had cleared the way. The emails - which ESPNcricinfo has seen - were written on February 4, 2009, two days before the auction.

"What a nightmare to convince them not to terminate tanveer and also not to take flintoff," Modi wrote. "Warne went of [sic] the handle. But have managed it by using stick and carrot strategy. Thus they have [$]1.875 [million] only. Much love Lalit." Srinivasan's reply later the same day reads: "Thanks. You are most sweet. Srini." The existence of the emails was first reported by CNN-IBN in September, 2010.

Super Kings had been favourites to sign Flintoff at the 2009 auction because they were the only franchise to have the whole $2 million to spend. They had originally retained Chamara Kapugedera, the Sri Lanka batsman, for $150,000, but were later given permission to cancel his contract, restoring their full purse.

Flintoff was sold for $1.55 million at the auction in Goa, making him the most expensive player at the time alongside Kevin Pietersen. Mumbai Indians had, by buying JP Duminy for $950,000, effectively ruled themselves out of the bidding for Flintoff, and Royal Challengers Bangalore did not enter the bidding for him at all. Royals tried to keep pace, but after buying Shaun Tait for $375,000, they had only $1.5 million left, and Super Kings eventually got him.

The participation of Pakistan players in the 2009 IPL was in doubt because of the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 and, a day after the above email exchange, six Pakistan players had their contracts terminated. But four other contracts, including Tanvir's, were only "suspended", with the affected teams allowed to sign replacements outside of the auction. If Royals had terminated Tanvir's contract instead, the team would have had an extra slot for a player in the auction and their full purse.

The BCCI has always maintained that the auction was free of collusion. Board and IPL officials told ESPNcricinfo that they did not wish to comment on Modi's interview, but Srinivasan told PTI that while he had not watched the interview, he could state that "there is absolutely no substance or truth in what he is saying. He [Modi] is talking about 2009 auctions and this is 2012. If what he is saying is true, then why didn't he speak out earlier?"

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

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Posted by   on (February 8, 2012, 14:38 GMT)

Sohail tanveer had performed well in the first ipl..retaining the same old team would have been what RR would have thought..instead of buying freddie.. modi must have burst out coz of the issues that caught him..but it could well be our assumption.. we are unaware of what is happening behind our back..modi could have set t up for chennai to get freddie..IPL bidding could be a curtain play.. the best thng is stop promoting cricket...it is ruining all otha sports in india...

Posted by   on (February 8, 2012, 13:14 GMT)

You can't always understand Modi. Plus why he was quiet all these years for what. This is just new ways to bring out controversies

Posted by Y2SJ on (February 8, 2012, 12:33 GMT)

More reason why all Sports should be made transparent and come under RTI.

Posted by wc_pak on (February 8, 2012, 8:26 GMT)

damn... what a shame! thanks God our pak players did not and will not participate in this shameful debacle... shame on BCCI... greed enough said

Posted by   on (February 8, 2012, 8:17 GMT)

Why boycott IPL, how else does India know the kind of talent we have , just look at the players , this is their best chance to play in front of large crowds, you are snatching the toy from the kid just because his dad was corrupt. IPL is good for our players, our test players and ODI players could be barred from playing and compensated for that, but young ones must be given a chance. For the record IPL has produced many heros like Kohli, Vinay Kumar, Ashwin, Murali Vijay, Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan, Manoj Tiwary, Saurabh Tiwary,Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav among others ,

Posted by mosursubramaniankailash on (February 8, 2012, 8:06 GMT)

I always believed that the IPL bidding is/was a set up. Though players play their heart out, the team formation looks like an arranged marriage....Why was mumbai allowed to play 5 foreign players in Champions league? How mumbai got mitchel jonson for the base price? How pollard went to mumbai?..... IPL team owners have invested millions of dollars in IPL, They want their team to win the tournament at-least once for them to make both ends meet....The IPL organising committee would see to that all the teams win in certain way.....This is no rocket science.....

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (February 8, 2012, 7:03 GMT)

Much love? You are so sweet? Sounds like an extramarital affair to me

Posted by satish619chandar on (February 8, 2012, 6:34 GMT)

Lol.. CSK had whole 2m.. They could have bought Freddie without any arm twisting.. Modi just faciliated for his own benefit as he can easily convince Warne who is his team's captain.. How come he do all the things and put blame on others.. Who is he to convince RR not to bid for Freddie.. Are there any mail or proof that Srini asked Modi to do a favor to him by retaining Tanveer? Even if RR had that money, RR don't have the courage to put all the money on single player.. They never wanted to waste money on big stars..

Posted by Rukmankan on (February 8, 2012, 6:08 GMT)

Going by the lovey-dovey tone of the emails, this is all just an ex-lovers' spat then? :-)

Posted by   on (February 8, 2012, 2:44 GMT)

Anybody out there still ready to boycott watching the IPL???

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