IPL news February 7, 2012

'Secret tiebreak rule helped some franchises'

The secret tiebreaker rule in the IPL player auction was devised by Lalit Modi, the former IPL chairman, and benefited Mumbai Indians during the 2010 auction, an official from one of the original eight IPL franchises has said.

The official's comments were made to ESPNcricinfo after Modi, during an interview to Indian television channel CNN IBN, said the tiebreaker was meant to level the field in the IPL. When asked why the tie-breaker had to be kept secret, Modi chose not to answer the question.

"The tiebreaker only came in because, how do you determine when you have a fixed purse for the tournament. And this is well researched, that you reach the cap and still two teams are bidding, secret tie-breaker came as a penalty clause where the team actually pays back a higher fee but it goes back to the BCCI, which is then used to offset other player costs," Modi said. "But the objective, again, was to make it equal. All bidders get an equal opportunity to buy a player."

The secret tie breaker became a high-earning option for the BCCI as compared to the others - a draw of lots or the toss of a coin - in the case of two teams hitting the League's player's salary cap during an auction. The competing franchises are invited to submit secret bids in a sealed envelope, and the highest bidder gets the player. The value of the secret bids are not disclosed and the amount in excess of the maximum open-auction bid goes to the BCCI and not the player.

The franchise official said the field had not been level even during Modi's time as IPL chief as the secret tie-breaker could usually benefit teams with deeper pockets. "The truth is, has there been favouritism in the IPL? Of course there has been," the official told ESPNcricinfo. "There has been favouritism in the sense, if you create a rule like the tiebreaker, you know it favours only certain franchises. That rule was made by Modi himself and Mumbai Indians were able to get Kieron Pollard in the auction."

So far only three players have been bought via this rule. In the 2010 auction, more than one franchise made the maximum open-auction bid - $750,000 - for Pollard and Shane Bond. During the tiebreakers, Mumbai made the winning bid for Pollard while Kolkata Knight Riders bought Bond. In the 2012 auction on February 4, Chennai Super Kings and Deccan Chargers bid their entire purse - $2 million - for Ravindra Jadeja, forcing the sale to be decided via a tiebreaker, which was won by Chennai.

The franchise official also pointed out another example of Modi altering regulations, in the case of the selection of Indian Cricket League players, who were given amnesty after their bans. "The original idea was that there would be draft pick," the official said, explaining that the franchise with the poorest record would get the first pick. "But instead, Modi said anyone can pick anyone. Mumbai Indians immediately picked R Sathish, Ambati Rayudu and Ali Murtuza, who played a significant part for Mumbai in the first three years. Two of the most significant rule changes, which favoured big teams, happened during Modi's time.

During the interview Modi targeted the BCCI president N Srinivasan, who is also the managing director of India Cements, the company that owns the Super Kings. Modi alleged Srinivasan was bending rules to suit Super Kings' needs. While the official ESPNcricinfo spoke to said the rules did favour the bigger franchises, he said it was not cheating.

"If you ask me, if the system favours Mumbai or Chennai, yes wherever it can. For example if there is a rule that Rs 30 lakhs is the limit (for uncapped domestic players) to come and sign whoever you want, you knew that players would be signed by the big guys and they would pay obscene amounts under the table for the players they wanted. But to say that is cheating, is not correct."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo