Time for IPL to move away from auction approach and implement draft system

Ashish Peter 31/01/2018
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The IPL mega-auction has started drawing criticisms.

The mega-auction style of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has come under fire from the New Zealand Zealand Cricket Players Association (NZCPA).

In an interview with the New Zealand Herald, Heath Mills, chief executive of the NZPCA said: “The IPL Auction is such an undignified, cruel and unnecessary employment practice. Ridiculous that it exists today, belongs in the medieval ages.

“There’s a lot of good things about the IPL and it’s been great for cricket but I’d like to see it mirror the rest of professional sport in the way they engage athletes,” Mills added.

This brings up the question of whether the IPL needs to move away from the auction system into a draft style approach adopted by many professional leagues around the world.

Since its inception in 2008, the IPL has incorporated the ‘mega’ auction which has turned into a spectacle of its own. When once thinks about the scramble for the world’s best cricketers, the picture of auctioneer Richard Madley wielding the hammer springs to mind immediately.

While the approach of the various franchises bidding for an individual player makes for some great television, it does present the possibility of a player going unsold for all to see. Several big names have gone unsold over the years with England’s Joe Root the latest such example.

High profile names like Root have gone unsold over the years.

High profile names like Joe Root have gone unsold over the years.

The very idea that a player has no control over his destiny once entered in the auction seems to run contrary to most professional leagues. Not many have complained until now as the IPL kept creating cricket’s newest millionaires but the auction-style approach was always going to be questioned at some point.

The signs are there that the IPL has been mulling over a change and it was all but confirmed by its chief operating officer Hemang Amin at the end of the recently concluded two-day action.

“Going forward, the thinking is that we will reduce, maybe not have mega auctions, but consider having a draft system for new players to come in, which acts as feeder system to teams. Hence, IPL Governing Council is thinking on the lines of how to cut down on the big auction and have the continuity with teams,” he had stated.

Continuity with the teams will be important for the eight franchises in the league to create a sustainable fan base over the years. The constant chopping and changing over the past decade has seen players turn out for three to four different franchises in recent years.

To parade the players like cattle in the auction oversteps some ethical boundaries while also hampering continuity across the teams. A draft system is now the need of the hour. The IPL has shown signs that it is willing to evolve and such a move in upcoming editions would be very much welcome.

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IPL auctions and their strange disinterest in top-ranked Twenty20 bowlers

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The IPL auction can be a painful to watch for some of the players involved. Will franchises even bid? Will life change overnight with a million dollars or so in the account? It can all prove to be a major distraction, especially if the players are playing competitive cricket at the time.

Since auctions are dictated by franchises’ own needs and player analysis, it is difficult to say with certainty which names will get the fattest contracts. Even so, some decisions do leave cricket fans and experts scratching their heads days after the end of the sale.

For two straight years, franchises have not selected the top-ranked T20 bowler in the world. What’s more, both are leg-spinners.

In 2017, South African leggie Imran Tahir went unsold during the auction despite being the No1 bowler in the world in T20s and even ODIs. Luckily for him, he was later signed as a replacement by Rising Pune Supergiant for injured Aussie all-rounder Mitchell Marsh.

Tahir went on to enjoy a stellar IPL 2017. In 12 matches, he picked up 18 wickets at an economy of 7.8. This year, Tahir was snapped up by Chennai Super Kings.

But while the 38-year-old Tahir was ‘bought’, Kiwi leggie Ish Sodhi failed to elicit any response during the two-day auction this week.

Sodhi has played 87 T20 matches with 97 wickets to his name at an economy of 7.6. In 21 international matches, Sodhi has 31 scalps at an economy of 7.1. Are we missing something here?

There can be a lot of reasons why a player, especially a non-Indian, doesn’t get picked. The main reason is teams can only field four foreign names in the playing XI. Even so, not picking the No1 T20 bowler in the world (at least at first go) who happens to be a leg-spinner for two straight years doesn’t reflect too well on the collective wisdom of the franchises.

Sodhi has now slipped to No3 in the world in T20s. Such is life.

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What Sandeep Lamichhane's IPL breakthrough means for cricket in Nepal

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Sandeep Lamichhane was bought by Delhi Daredevils.

Teenage leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane could boost Nepal’s scandal-tainted domestic cricket after getting picked up during the IPL auction.

Lamichhane, 17, made history becoming the first cricketer from Nepal to land an IPL contract when he was ‘bought’ by Delhi Daredevils for $31,000 (Dh113,000).

“Sandeep has created history for Nepal and has sent out a positive message about Nepali cricket,” Chumbi Lama of the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) said.

“He has also opened doors for other Nepali players to make a mark internationally.”

Lamichhane’s entry into the league comes on the heels of weekend meetings between the International Cricket Council (ICC) and CAN about ending Nepal’s two-year suspension from the global governing body.

“We have had series of meetings with ICC and are hopeful for a reinstatement,” said Lama.

The ICC banned CAN in April 2016 over political interference in the running of the domestic governing body, but continued to allow Nepal’s national teams to participate in top events.

The ICC has been working with CAN to draft a new constitution, but negotiations hit a roadblock after the Nepal side refused to adopt the proposed text.

Lamichhane is currently training in Dubai with Nepal’s national team ahead of the Division Two of the World cricket League in Namibia next month.

Nepal need to finish in the top two to take part in the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe in March. Nepal have never qualified for the World Cup.

“I am worried that the dispute over the Cricket Association of Nepal has been affecting the development of cricket in Nepal and players’ career enhancement,” said Nepal’s former national skipper and one-time mentor to Lamichhane, Raju Khadka.

“The IPL opportunity for Sandeep could help cricket in Nepal overall in addition to his career. Now various countries and teams will notice other players of the country,” he added.

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