Parth Jindal: 'People spent a lot on marquee players, didn't have much money for others'
Capitals were the only team to buy an Associate player: "You can only play five foreigners if you play an Associate player - so it makes all the sense"
The initial strategies at the inaugural Women's Premier League (WPL) auction on Monday expectedly showed that the three franchises out of five that own IPL teams had a better idea of how to go about it. Four of the first six players went to two of those franchises - Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians - and it was only later, by the time 14 players were sold, that the other teams had started building a core by spending INR 25.70 crore (US$ 3.13 million approx.) overall.
Delhi Capitals, who also own teams in the ILT20 and SA20, still had their bag empty, despite bidding for nine of the 14 players who were sold. But despite turning up late for the party, Capitals took home some big names such as Meg Lanning, Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma and Marizanne Kapp, among others. They bought as many players as were allowed (18), and still had INR 35 lakh (US$ 42,700 approx.) in their purse when they went home.
Parth Jindal, their co-owner, said that they had come with a clear plan of a top limit for each player they wanted and withdraw when the bids exceeded those.
"A lot of money got spent on the marquee list by the other teams," Jindal told ESPNcricinfo. "People spent almost 30% of their purse on one player. Smriti Mandhana went for INR 3.4 crore out of 12 [crore], that's 27-28% of their purse. That's like spending 30 crore on one player in the men's IPL. You can't do that! According to me, you can't do that, but they did.
"People spent a lot on the marquee players and that didn't leave much money for some of the other Indians. So when a few of the sets got over, we were in a very sweet spot because we had Jemimah, Shafali, Lanning, and we were ready with money to pick up whoever we wanted to pick up. We're very happy, fingers crossed, we've built a good squad."
"You can only play five foreigners if you play an Associate player in the XI. So it makes all the sense to take one. I don't know why they [other teams] didn't [buy an Associate player]"Parth Jindal
Capitals had also put in bids for some big-ticket players such as Harmanpreet Kaur, Ellyse Perry, Sophie Ecclestone, Deepti Sharma, Renuka Singh, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Tahlia McGrath and Shabnim Ismail but opted out after a point. Till they finally bought a player - Rodrigues for INR 2 crore - that fit their budget.
"We went till our ceiling for the player," Jindal explained. "For each player we had a budget, and it was new to me, so I was given a budget and I was told, 'don't go beyond this under any circumstances'. When it hit that, we didn't go ahead."
But who gives a team co-owner such instructions? Jindal said with a laugh that the limits were set by the same people who did the hard work in the lead-up to the first WPL auction: his support staff and scouting team, comprising head coach Jonathan Batty, assistant coaches Lisa Keightley and Hemlata Kala, and advisor Venugopal Rao.
Jindal also revealed that Sourav Ganguly, who returned to the Capitals set-up recently, had suggested Batty and Kala for coaching positions, before they conducted a "robust interview process" and finalised Batty for the lead role. "I talk to Dada about everything cricket because he's my childhood hero," Jindal said. "We interviewed everyone, and Jonathan was selected because he had great success at the women's Hundred and Big Bash as well. We really liked meeting him."
When asked why exactly Capitals decided to buy a team in the WPL, which may not fetch the kind of returns a men's IPL team did in the initial years, Jindal said it was a "long-term investment" that gave them an opportunity to invest in academies for girls in the coming years, and would encourage more women to pick up cricket.
"It's a huge amount of money [players have earned] and I said this a couple of times before but it's amazing to think that if you are an English, Australian, South African or Indian player and you play for your national team, you're going to be a crorepati," he said. "That's amazing for all the girls out there in the world, to think that if I can play for my country, somebody's going to pick me up in the WPL for more than a crore, which is a lot of money."
Another thing the Capitals think tank did differently at the auction was to buy an Associate player - Tara Norris from USA - something no other team did despite the rules allowing a team to field five - and not four - overseas player if one of them were from an Associate nation. There were 19 players from Associate teams in the auction pool.
"You can only play five foreigners if you play an Associate player in the XI, so it makes all the sense to take one," Jindal said. "I don't know why they didn't. I know Gujarat [Giants] tried later but they had run out of foreign slots."
About the captain, Jindal said Lanning, Rodrigues and Shafali were options, but the coaches would take a call once the squad assembles in the coming weeks.
Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo