Lara, Ganguly and Gayle - all left-handers and destructive batsmen capable of tearing apart any bowling attack in their day. Yet, none of the IPL franchises wants them.
While Lara is a ''had been'', Gayle is having problems enough with the West Indies authorities and is unavailable due to other commitments.
As for Ganguly, if I were him, I would have followed Kumble's footsteps and pulled out of the auction.
Ganguly probably believes he has another few seasons of cricket left in him, though it is obvious that few others, barring the fanatics in Kolkata, share that sentiment.
To give him his due, Ganguly was the fourth highest run-getter in 2010 IPL with 493 from 14 games with an average of 37.92 at a strike-rate of 117.66.
Why did they have to insult Dada again?
These figures were much better than those in the previous two seasons. As a captain, he was unable to lift the team that finished sixth in 2008 and 2010, and last in 2009. So much so that McCullum was made the captain, but the Kiwi never quite looked the part.
There were enough indications in the KKR camp that the bosses were looking for a total revamp of the team. The fact that they did not retain even a single player should have sent out strong signals to the likes of Ganguly that their days in the IPL were numbered. It is another matter that Dada could yet be roped in as a ''mentor'', like Kumble who played it smart by pulling out of the auction and joining the RCB management that had released all but Virat Kohli.
Ganguly fans can burn effigies or whatever else, but nothing is likely to change KKR's decision to give him the miss as a player. After all, IPL is big business first and cricket next. It is much like you and I deciding to buy a new car or some costly consumable. We weigh pros and cons that translate to Return on Investments (RoI) that guide the Corporates in their spends.
So, all talk about ''love and passion'' is just blah, blah.
If anything, the auction was a pointer to the trends that are guided not just by market forces but also value-adds such as glamour quotient, availability and of course proven ability. In other words, to get bought at the IPL auction, you need to have a good track record and proven ability. Since Australia has the best cricketing structure, its players are among the most sought after among foreign sign-ups.
Top IPL4 earners & their performance
Thus, before we shed tears over Ganguly, it is best to take a realistic view and also consider the franchise owners' perspective that follows business practices. For a majority of the franchise owners, IPL provides visibility that in turn attracts sponsorship and revenue. As we have seen over three seasons, cricket itself tends to play second fiddle to the peripherals with the name of the game being ''wholesale family entertainment'' or rather, a live soap that beats the decked up and highly unrealistic no-brainers put out by the TV channels.
Despite the messy goings-on in the recent month following the ouster of Lalit Modi, I feel that the IPL is here to stay whether we like it or not. The other day, a local cricketer told me that today's youngsters are more focused on securing an ''IPL seat'' rather than pursue academics. After all, these are dog days where only money talks. In fact, I was told that IPL takes precedence over even other major domestic competitions like the Ranji Trophy.
''You can earn more in one IPL season than 10 Ranji seasons!'' he said.
Images: IPL auction 2011
The point is that IPL is changing the face of cricket. Alarm bells are being sounded over the future of Tests and ODIs. The die-hards might believe that these formats would yet survive and I wish it would be so, especially Tests. But the tweeting and i-pod generation is impatient. For today's' youngsters, time equates to money. IPL telescopes all the action into a three-hour package, and so, why sit through seven (ODI) or 30 hours (Tests) when results are not guaranteed?
Some 30 years ago, nobody thought the ODI would survive and yet it did. Now, it is the turn of T20 and who knows, three decades hence, we might get bored with it! A Tendulkar might suggest tinkering of the format to make T20 ''more interesting''.
So, it is virtually a good-bye for Ganguly's generation. Dravid and his ilk just about survived this year's auction, but the clock is ticking for them too. Grey hair is out and the spike and jell-o are in! If you don't like it, don't see it.
In sporting terminology, it is either perform or perish. Your reputation is not worth a damn cent, much less a million dollars. It is so in the times we live in today and cricket is played on this planet.