It was one of the most bizarre IPL auctions I have witnessed as some of the buys and unsold just did not make sense, especially the kind of riches thrown at players still to prove their credentials at the highest levels. While I do not begrudge the players for their lucrative contracts, purely from cricket perspective, some of the goings-on were difficult to fathom.
While the likes of Karan Sharma and Rishi Dhawan earned contracts that probably was beyond their wildest dreams, RCB coughing out Rs 14 crore for Yuvraj indeed floored me. There was Vijay Mallya in his latest hair-do going after Yuvraj and eventually securing him, and though this might sound out of context, I couldn’t help wonder about the same person not paying salaries to staff of his now-defunct airlines.
Going by the 'all is well' and feel good pronouncements of various franchise team owners, it was apparent that the Justice Mudgal report on corruption in the IPL has had little or no impact with there being no legal stay on the proceedings. It was typical that not a single BCCI official, much less the IPL team bosses had anything substantial or noteworthy to say by way of reaction to the Mudgal report.
And so, it will be business as usual with IPL and I cannot visualize the slippery bookies having second thoughts on plying their trade during the T20 bash that might have split venues in view of the country’s General Elections.
The point is that with so many big-wigs and political figures involved in Indian cricket, absolutely nothing will rock the BCCI and the IPL boats. Also, given the slow moving wheels of justice in India, it is unlikely if we will witness any startling developments in the near future. Until then, the show will go on.
One of the positives arising out of the auction was the riches that the uncapped players earned, especially those who had performed well during the Ranji Trophy season. Some of the Karnataka players, having won both Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup, were awarded lucrative contracts as also Maharashtra’s Kedar Jadhav who had scored consistently.
Yet, for some inexplicable reason, the Bangalore franchise team just turned a blind eye on local talent and we can say much the same with some of the other teams that are sorely lacking local flavour.
As for the big boys who earned million-dollar contracts, it remains to be seen whether they are worth the fortunes spent on them. I am no big fan of Kevin Pietersen despite all the hype around this England player who was sacked after the disastrous Ashes tour of Australia. Obviously, his reputation rather than current form seems to have won him a spot with the Delhi outfit despite his reported off-the-field shenanigans in Australia, especially the so-called row with his captain Cook in Sydney.
In contrast, none of the fancied Sri Lankan players received any bid and it was no surprise considering they will be away in England this summer on an official tour and hence may not be available for the IPL. Their absence will be certainly felt.
Reverting to the Mudgal report, it has made some damning observations on the failure on part of the IPL Governing Council to act against Chennai Super Kings despite its official, Meiyappan being involved in betting and spot-fixing. It would seem that much like our Parliamentarians, the rules can be bent and twisted to favour a few.
The conflict of interest charges against Srinivasan and CSK captain Dhoni (though not named in the Mudgal report, but definitely indicated) is another issue that the Governing Council needs to address if only to protect the sanctity of IPL that is definitely here to stay regardless of its critics.
It is just as well that Dhoni is far away in New Zealand, struggling with his team to keep pace with the Kiwis. The loss in the first Test, if only by 40 runs, would have hurt, but it exposed the shallowness of India’s much-hyped batting line-up. However, it is to be hoped that the team would rally and win the second Test that is presently in progress.
The 4-0 rout in the ODI series seems to be still haunting the Indian team, but the off-shoot of those defeats has been the sacking of Raina for the Asia Cup. Also welcome is the retention of Stuart Binny although he was given just one over to bowl in the only ODI he played in New Zealand. His performances in the Ranji Trophy obviously sealed his spot in the Indian team and let’s hope that he is given opportunities in the Asia Cup.
Now that the IPL auction is over, the wait begins to know whether the tournament, at least the initial stages, will be played in India or abroad. I suspect, the event would be moved to South Africa, something that might appease the Proteas who were a bit miffed at the shortening of the Indian tour to just two Tests last year.