Plan, strategize and build a side - It's that time of the year again. Two months ahead of the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League, the think-tank across the eight franchises would have indulged in long hours of drawing up possible squads to build as they gear up for the player auctions in Bangalore on February 12 and 13. (Click here for latest on IPL 2014)
With all the players (barring the ones retained) to go under the hammer, the auction promises to be an exciting one with a lot of strategy expected to be on display. New auction brings along new hope and new outlook for a lot of teams while some look to rebuild around a few core members. Either way, it will be a fresh start for all eight teams to try and find the best possible combination going forward. (514 players to go under the hammer)
New season, new auction, new rules
A number of changes have been drafted for the 2014 season of IPL along with other rules.
1. For the first time, the players will be valued in Indian rupees during the player auction instead of the US dollars which was used in the first six seasons.
2. For the first time in the history of IPL player auction, even uncapped Indian players will be auctioned.
3. As many as 514 players will go under the hammer - 219 capped (169 Indian and 50 overseas) and 292 uncapped (255 Indian and 37 overseas).
4. The list of 50 overseas players also includes two Associate Nation cricketers -- Niall O'Brien from Ireland and Ryan ten Doeschate from Netherlands.
5. Among the 219 capped players, 46 Indians have been valued at top base price of Rs 2 crore each.
6. List of players valued the highest (at Rs 2 crore each): Dinesh Karthik, Praveen Kumar, Amit Mishra, Ashish Nehra, Pragyan Ojha, Yusuf Pathan, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Saurabh Tiwary, Robin Uthappa, M Vijay, George Bailey, Brad Haddin, Brad Hodge, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh, James Pattinson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Alex Hales, Samit Patel, Kevin Pietersen, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor, Jacques Kallis, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews, Marlon Samuels.
1. 16 and 27 is the minimum and maximum limit, respectively, for the number of players in each squad. In 2013, the upper limit was 33.
2. A squad can have only up to nine foreign players (it was 11 in 2013).
3. The rule of fielding at least seven Indians in the playing eleven has remained unchanged.
4. An Under-19 Indian player will be eligible to play in the IPL only if he has played First Class or List A cricket.
Salaries, Contracts and Player Retentions
1. The salary cap for each franchise has been set at Rs. 60 crores, with an increase of 5% each year for 2015 and 2016.
2. The Indian players will be paid in Indian currency while the overseas players will be paid in the currency of their choice at the prevailing exchange rate on the date of payment or due date of contract.
3. In terms of player retention, each franchise was allowed to retain five players from their previous year's squad. A total of 24 players were retained by the eight franchises.
The 'Joker Card' debut
Adding more intrigue and excitement to the upcoming player auction, the IPL board has introduced a new feature called the 'right to match' option, also known as the 'Joker Card'.
According to this feature, a team can bring back a player who was part of its franchise last year but wasn't one of the players retained by them. A team can exercise this option the moment a particular player is deemed 'sold' to another franchise. Once the player is 'sold', the auctioneer will give the old franchise a chance to use their 'right-to-match' option, by which they can bring back the player with a matching bid amount.
A clause to the retention system states that no team can retain or buy back (using Joker card), more than four capped Indian players from their previous squad. For instance, the Chennai Super Kings have retained four capped Indian players (MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin). If they wish to hire the services of Murali Vijay once again, they cannot exercise their 'Right-to-Match' option. They will have to make the highest bid and not merely match it. (Related: Eoin Morgan pulls out of IPL 7)
The following is the breakdown for number of players that can be brought back using 'right to match' option depending on the number of players retained by each side.
1. If three or more players are retained, 'right-to-match' option can be used on one player.
2. If one or two players are retained, 'right-to-match' option can be used on two players.
3. If no player is retained, 'right-to-match' option can be used on three players.
Player retentions and budget breakdown
A team has a total budget of Rs. 60 crores for their squad and spend as follows on each player retained:
- Rs. 12.5 crore for the first player.
- Rs. 9.5 crore for the second player.
- Rs. 7.5 crore for the third player.
- Rs. 5.5 crore for the fourth player.
- Rs. 4 crore for the fifth player.
The above mentioned breakdown is for the capped players. For each uncapped player retained, a franchise will forego Rs. 4 crore. (Also read: Scared of watching my IPL auction, says Corey Anderson)
Chennai Super Kings
The Chennai Super Kings, the most consistent team of the tournament, continued to maintain the core of its team. They retained the five capped players -- MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Dwayne Bravo -- thereby spending Rs. 39 crore out of the total Rs. 60 crore. They now have Rs. 21 crore to spend for their remaining squad. (Read about retained players)
The Mumbai Indians also opted to hand on to the five best performers over the years and have retained, Rohit Sharma, Lasith Malinga, Harbhajan Singh, Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu. Their budget is also down to Rs. 24 crore for the player auction.
In what seems like a bold move, the Rajasthan Royals have also used the retention policy to maximum. They've invested their faith in a mix of experience and youth and have retained: Shane Watson, James Faulkner, Ajinkya Rahane, Stuart Binny and Sanju Samson. Since at the time of retention, Stuart Binny and Sanju Samson were uncapped, they have spent a total of Rs. 37.5 crore (12.5, 9.5, 7.5, 4,4). They now have Rs. 22.5 crore left for the auctions.
Kolkata Knight Riders
The Kolkata Knight Riders have retained just two players, skipper Gautam Gambhir and West Indian 'mystery' spinner Sunil Narine. They have spent Rs. 21 crore in the process and have Rs. 39 crore remaining for the rest of the squad. (Must read: Wasim Akram returns as KKR bowling coach)
The Sunrisers Hyderabad also have retained two players, Shikhar Dhawan and South African speedster Dale Steyn. They now need to assemble the rest of their squad using Rs. 39 crore.
Kings XI Punjab
Along with big-hitting David Miller, the Kings XI Punjab have surprisingly retained an uncapped Indian player, Manan Vohra. Hence, they have spent Rs. 16.5 crore (12.5, 4) and have a total of Rs. 44.5 crore at their disposal.
Players to watch: Some old guard, some new sensations
The upcoming player auction will see a combination of a few experienced campaigners and some new sensations fighting it out for some lucrative deals. The veterans like Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Mahela Jayawardene and Jacques Kallis to name a few, are all in the top bracket of Rs. 2 crore base price while exciting T20 cricketers like Corey Anderson, Aaron Finch and last season's million-dollar baby Glenn Maxwell could also spark a bidding war. (Kohli wants Yuvraj in RCB squad: report)
The biggest scramble could be for Kevin Pietersen, who will not be available for the entire season of the IPL. Franchises, who would have done an extensive research, will also be keen on in-form players like Brendon McCullum, Luke Ronchi, Quinton de Kock, Cameron White, to name a few. It will be very interesting to see how a team lines up its batsmen as they could be spoilt for choices and have a dilemma over it.
Win-win situation for Kevin Pietersen
There are two very fascinating scenarios. Pietersen, who was recently dropped by the England and Wales Cricket Board, will now be available for the entire season. The Delhi Daredevils, whose roster he was a part of in 2013, will want to consider getting him back via 'right-to-match' card. If more than two or three teams vie for him, his price is bound to go up by a big margin. In this situation, the Delhi Daredevils could be at an advantage as they could get him much cheaper than what they would have paid for him via retention (Rs. 12.5 crore). Given his immense talent and the impact KP can have in the shorter format of the game, Delhi will look to set a certain upper limit and look to prise him away from the potential suitors who win the bid. It will be a profitable acquisition for Delhi as it is highly unlikely that a team will be ready to bid in excess of Rs. 12.5 crore for him, thereby giving Delhi an opportunity to cut some costs on him. Even if the Delhi franchise do not see him as a part of their project, a vigorous bidding war will only mean inflated price and a win-win situation for the maverick Pietersen. (No cheerleaders in IPL 7)
Away from the glitz and glamour of the superstar owners and the exciting players, one also needs to look at the star-studded coaching staff that will operate this year. While Australian coach Darren Lehmann will not be seen in the dug-out for the Kings XI Punjab, two immensely successful former Indian coaches, John Wright and Gary Kirsten will be in action for the Mumbai Indians and the Delhi Daredevils, respectively. The tournament will also see the astute Tom Moody for the Sunrisers and a surprising choice of Daniel Vettori for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. This season will also see the return of Wasim Akram in the support staff of Kolkata Knight Riders. That is a lot of cricketing brain at work in a single tournament!
Recap of IPL auctions and player swap
- In the inaugural year of the IPL in 2008, Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, fresh from his success in World T20 2007 in South Africa, received the highest bid of 1.5 million USD. The players were handed a three-year contract, after which every player was to return to the auction pool. In the following two years, the teams were allowed to strengthen their squads, if required and the transfer window gave an opportunity for players to shift teams.
- In 2009, the biggest signing was that of David Warner for Delhi Daredevils. In the transfer window, Daredevils brought in Shikhar Dhawan from Mumbai Indians in exchange for Ashish Nehra while Mumbai Indians secured the services of Royal Challengers Bangalore's Robin Uthappa for Zaheer Khan.
- In 2011, when the auctions were held all over again, Gautam Gambhir, who had just played a match-winning knock in India's World Cup triumph over Sri Lanka, was the highest paid player at 2.4 million USD for the Kolkata Knight Riders. The second on this list was India's Yusuf Pathan, snapped up by KKR for 2.1 million USD. However, the biggest move of this period turned out to be the replacement that Royal Challengers went in for. They brought in West Indian opener Chris Gayle in place of an injured Dirk Nannes.
- The 2012 auction saw the rise of Ravindra Jadeja. He sparked a bidding war between the Chennai Super Kings and the now defunct Hyderabad franchise, Deccan Chargers. Both bid the maximum at 2 million USD with Chennai winning his signature through a tie-breaker. It was a massive fee to pay for a player whose base price was 100,000 USD. This season also saw a host of players moving from one team to another. Pietersen moved from the Deccan Chargers to the Delhi Daredevils, without playing a single game due to injury. Dinesh Karthik moved from Kings XI Punjab to Mumbai Indians while Deccan Chargers' Pragyan Ojha also joined the Mumbai franchise. This was also the window where Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood earned a spot in the KXIP squad on the grounds of being a UK citizen.
- In the 2013 auctions, there was yet another million-dollar baby, but this time from Australia. The young Glenn Maxwell earned a whooping bid of 1 million USD but hardly got a game to prove himself. He has been exceptional form for Australia and in the Big Bash as well. Maxwell will remain among the top attractions.
Yet another battle of wits and strategies beckons as the eight franchises set out to build their side once again, some from scratch while some with new combinations. Who will emerge as the winner in this year's auctions? And who will be the biggest gainers among players? We will have to wait and watch when the events unfold on February 12 and 13.
|No. of players retained in advance of the Player Auction||Salary Cap left for the 2014 Player Auction Rs. crore||No. of RTM for the 2014 Player Auction|
|Chennai Super Kings||5||21||1*
|Kings XI Punjab||2||43.5||2
|Kolkata Knight Riders||2||38||2
|Royal Challengers Bangalore||3||30.5||1|