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Feature

How Jofra Archer could be bought through a secret bid at the IPL 2022 auction

While there is no certainty that such a scenario will take place, it cannot be ruled out given big-draw Archer will feature in the later stages of the auction

Nagraj Gollapudi
10-Feb-2022
Will the silent tie-breaker rule be triggered by franchises to buy England fast bowler Jofra Archer at the IPL mega auction in Bengaluru on February 12 and 13?
While there is no certainty that such a scenario will take place, it cannot be ruled out considering Archer will be part of the accelerated bidding process which will happen on February 13. The accelerated bidding process, the IPL pointed out, will commence from player number 161. Archer is listed as player number 171.
Archer, who has listed his base price in the maximum slab of INR 2 crore (USD 260,000 approx), was a late entry into the auction pool. In fact, he did not enter his name in the original longlist but was part of the set of 44 new players that the 10 franchises had asked the IPL to add into the final shortlist of 590 players.
It is a matter of intrigue that Archer decided to enter his name despite the IPL pointing out that he was "unlikely" to feature in the 2022 season as he continues to recover from elbow surgery. As per the ECB's roadmap, Archer should be ready to play all cricket from June this year.
The IPL told the franchises that Archer was given permission to enter this year's auction "with a view to potential participation" in the 2022 and 2023 seasons if he were to be picked up by a franchise. The IPL also said if Archer were bought by a franchise and then could not play the 2022 season due to his injury, no replacement would be granted.
But Archer is a special fast bowler who can deliver extreme pace, touching 150kph effortlessly, and make the best batters uncomfortable. He was the Player of the Tournament in the 2020 IPL, when he represented Rajasthan Royals. Overseas fast bowlers have always been among the biggest buys in IPL auctions - if Archer were fully fit, he would have been a favourite to make the marquee set that kicks off the IPL auction.
There is also some evidence to suggest that interest in him remains high: he is slotted in the third allrounder set, meaning several franchises are interested. If not, his name would have come up even later. Players like Tim Southee and Tymal Mills are listed well behind Archer.
What is a silent tie-breaker?
In 2010, the IPL had devised the tie-breaker rule. The tie-breaker was designed to be used in smaller auctions, where there is a smaller purse, to break a deadlock in case of equal maximum bids for a player. In the IPL's history, three players have been bought via the tie-breaker rule: Kieron Pollard (Mumbai Indians) and Shane Bond (Kolkata Knight Riders) in 2010, and Ravindra Jadeja (Chennai Super Kings) in 2012.
The tie-breaker has been present in the auction rules since 2010, but has never been utilised at the mega auctions. On Wednesday, the IPL distributed the rules for the auction to the franchises including an explanation on when the tie-breaker rule would be invoked. For that to happen, a franchise will first need to make a "last bid" for a player, wherein it would have exhausted its purse. If there were a "matching bid" from a second franchise that equals the amount raised by the first team, then both teams would enter the silent tie-breaker tussle.
Both franchises would then need to submit a "written bid" for the player stating the money (in INR) they would pay over and above the last/matching bid. Importantly, the money from the tie-break bid would go to BCCI and not the player. "The tiebreak bid will indicate the amount, payable in one installment, in Indian rupees, that the franchisee is prepared to pay to BCCI (not the player) in order to secure the player's services for the IPL 2022 season," the IPL said in the note to the franchises. "The amount of the tiebreak bid is separate from and in addition to the amount of the last bid or the amount of the matching bid as appropriate, both of which constitute the bid for the player. The tiebreak bid is the separate amount, which the franchisee is prepared to pay to BCCI, and is not deducted from the relevant franchisee's salary cap. There is no limit on the amount of the tiebreak bid."
If the silent bids were to be equal, then the process would be repeated again.
What is the accelerated bidding process?
After the first 18 sets comprising 161 players are completed, the auction will move into accelerated mode. During the accelerated process, teams get to pick and submit names of players whom they are interested in from among the lot that went unsold the first time around and those who are yet to come up. Only these names will then come up for bids in the accelerated round.
Why is the tie-breaker rule more likely in Archer's case?
The reason the tie-breaker could be a plausible option in Archer's case is because, by the time the accelerated auction process commences, franchises would have already spent most of their purse and would have also stacked up close to or already touched the minimum squad strength of 18 as prescribed by the IPL.
If a franchise, for example, has 20 names on its roster and not much money left, it could be tempted to go all out for Archer, exhausting its purse. For such a team, the tie-breaker option could be even more tempting if Archer remains unsold the first time around in the accelerated round and his name is recalled by the franchises a second time (even more franchises would have built up the rest of their squads by this point, and can drain the remainder of their purse on Archer).
Some clarifications needed...
There is a bit of ambiguity that remains, which the auction rules do not address: what if there is more than one team that has the purse to raise the matching bid? For example, if franchise A has put its entire remaining purse on Archer, and then franchise B matches the bid of A. But then there is franchise C which also now wants to join in the silent bid. How will that be resolved? Will the IPL allow all those who are interested to submit a written silent bid and the highest takes the player?
Of course, Archer is just one example. The rule could be invoked for any other player too. Or it might not be used at all. Nonetheless, the silent tiebreaker only adds to the complexities of an IPL auction.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo