Indian Premier League March 10, 2008

Draft system for Under-19 players

Delhi's Virat Kohli could end up playing for another side after the draft system is implemented © Getty Images

Sixteen Under-19 players, including the members of the Indian squad that won the World Cup earlier this month, will be picked by the eight Indian Premier League franchises based on the "draft" system in practice in the various US leagues, Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman has said. The draft pick will be held during the second IPL auction, which will also include 18 foreign players, in Mumbai on March 11.

The players' fees - what the franchise will pay for them - have been fixed across the board at US$30,000 for this year, ending all speculation about whether the players will be auctioned in a manner similar to the seniors.

"The U-19 selection will be based on the draft system based on leagues like US NFL system," Modi told Cricinfo. "This year, since, we don't have a ranking, it will be a draw of lots. From next year the team's ranking will be based on the first year's performance."

That is the system used in American National Football League, where the team with the lowest winning percentage in the previous year gets the first option. However, since this is the first year of the IPL they have no previous record to go by and have chosen to implement the draft system.

Sundar Raman, the CEO of IPL, explained the process: "The franchises will be allotted numbers, from 1 to 8, at random on the basis of lots, and the players will be ranked by the IPL governing council. The franchise assigned the number 1 will get the chance to pick any player of their choice and then the second franchise can select their player and so on.

"After eight players are picked in this manner, the order of the bidding gets reversed. The eight franchise will have the first choice to pick their player, then the seventh franchise can select the player of their choice and so on. The franchises can also choose not to pick any player."

The list of 15 players has already been circulated and the franchises have been told the 16th name will be added today.

Unlike the NFL, the NBA uses a draft lottery system where the positions are obtained by semi-random selection. This deters teams from deliberately playing poorly in the end of the season to get a higher draft position.

The US$30,000 tag has found favour with some of the franchises. "It's a good move. There was a danger of spoiling the young kids with too much money at this stage in their career, "TA Sekhar, Delhi's cricket operations chief, told Cricinfo.

The IPL council was earlier considering incorporating a clause to give franchises a preference while picking players from their catchments. However, the draft system now allows a franchise to pick a player from some other region and we might see a situation where Delhi's Virat Kohli turns out for another side.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo