N Srinivasan, the BCCI secretary and owner of the Chennai Super Kings franchise, has said the Indian board and government had nothing to do with the player selections at the IPL auction, amid the outrage in Pakistan over none of their cricketers securing a bid.
Srinivasan added the franchises had specific needs going into the auction, and bids and decisions over team selection were solely their prerogative. "Firstly, we have to recognise there were only 11 available slots, including the vacancies arising out of injuries, and as many as 66 foreign players to pick from," Srinivasan told the Hindu. "There were 55 cricketers who must have been disappointed with the auction. The differing needs of the franchises and availability of the players played a large role in whom the teams bid for."
Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, also said that there "was no preconceived conspiracy to leave Pakistani players."
There were 11 Pakistan cricketers in the list of 66, including those who had played a significant role in Pakistan's victory in the ICC World Twenty20. But none secured a bid, resulting in criticism by players, administrators and politicians as well as charges of conspiracy. The Pakistan players had received NOCs from the PCB and clearances from various ministries in the Pakistan government to participate in the IPL, but the uncertainty over strained relations with India could have prompted the franchises to wield restraint. Srinivasan, however, said the players' nationalities was a non-issue in the auction.
"I do not think one should look at the nationality of the cricketers at all here. The franchises are paying good money for the team as well as the players. They have the right to pick the players they want. After all, it is their money. If you look at the auction, some very good cricketers such as Ramnaresh Sarwan, Brad Haddin and Graeme Swann did not find any takers. Their ability is not in question here. It is just that the franchises entered the auction with specific needs."
The Indian government had distanced itself from the result of the IPL auction, insisting that the league was an independent commercial enterprise and the franchises had made their decisions on their own. Srinivasan echoed the sentiment. "How can you say if you do not buy a player from a particular country it is an insult to that nation," he asked. "How much a team is prepared to spend and on whom it is prepared to spend that kind of money, is the sole prerogative of franchises. The BCCI has no role. And the choice of the individual team owners should not be mixed up with government policy.
"It is possible that some franchises could have displayed interest in the Pakistani players and then changed their minds according to their needs."