With the IPL 7 players’ auction just around the corner, let us take a look at the trend that has been evolving in the auctions over the last six years. I have considered IPL 1 and IPL 4 auctions, as those were the two editions to happen on a big scale so far.
Trend 1 – Valuation of Indian players
It is very important to understand the auction dynamics before valuing any player. By applying simple cricket sense, one can easily say Jacques Kallis, Mahela Jayawardene and Brendon Mccullum are much better than Irfan Pathan, Rohit Sharma and Robin Uthappa, respectively, and similarly we can go on comparing many such combinations; however, auction dynamics are different.
Every team has to play 7 Indian players as against 4 foreigners in their playing 11, and so, out of around 100 quality foreign players, teams are fighting for 4 quality players, while on the other hand, out of 25 odd high quality Indian players available, teams need 7 of the highest trait. In such a scenario, the Indian players are much in demand than the foreigners. Simple supply and demand concept can explain why Indians are valued more in the auction than foreigners.
The owners have understood this, and hence we can see a clear shift in strategy on their part as compared to the first three IPL auctions.
The following table gives the percentage of money spent by owners on Indian and foreign players.
|Percentage of money spent on Indian and foreign players|
|Auction 1||Auction 4|
|Indian players||Foreign Players||Indian players||Foreign Players|
Trend 2- Availability of foreign players
In the first 3 auctions, owners, going behind the big names in International cricket, did not check the availability of foreign players during the IPL. Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen went for 1.55 million USD in the IPL 2 auction only to play 4 matches each, and that doesn’t make any sense. Owners became more prudent in the two auctions that followed, which explains why big guns like Chris Gayle went unsold in the IPL 4 auction.
The following table tells us how the strategy of teams changed towards unavailable foreign players.
|Percentage of money spent on unavailable players of the total money spent|
|Auction 1||Auction 4|
Trend 3- Building Team around Captain
When we look at two big IPL auctions i.e., IPL 1 and IPL 4 and at the players who have gone for the maximum amount, the names of MS Dhoni (1.5 million USD) and Gautam Gambhir (2.4 million USD) come up. Did CSK and KKR spend that much on them because they wanted them as player alone? Certainly not! They wanted them as captains. They wanted to build a team around them. Same can be said about Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne. What is the result? They share 5 of the 6 IPL titles won till now. This has to be the strategy of teams if they look at winning the title rather than finishing at the top 4.
Traditional strategy of picking a squad and then choosing a captain can ensure a top 4 finish at the maximum. But to win titles, captain plays an important part. That is the reason why teams like Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers Bangalore, ever-present in the top 4, have struggled to win a title.
Delhi missed that plot when they retained Virender Sehwag ahead of Gambhir during IPL 4. They did not look at the captaincy aspect; therefore, they paid a heavy price for the grave mistake.
Trend 4- Tapping potential young Indians
It is very important to find out highly talented young Indian players and groom them. This could be best illustrated by what Mumbai Indians did to Ajinkya Rahane. When they lost him to Rajasthan Royals, his value was in lakhs, and with his performance in IPL 2012, his valuation has gone sky high. With Mumbai in need of an opener now, they cant even place a bid on him, as RR have retained the Indian national player.
What a big mistake it has turned out to be! This is why the teams have to invest in the future by making a point to let youngsters thrive in their team environment. This ploy helps the team to save a lot of money and to invest on the other international superstars during the auction.
Dark horses for IPL-7
While it is certain that players such as Pietersen, Corey Anderson, Yuvraj Singh, Sehwag, etc., will fetch a lot, it is important to look at players who are under the radar and can become a real value for money in the auction.
1). James Neesham: With all the eyes on Corey Anderson for the all-rounder’s spot, James Neesham is one guy who many teams may miss out on. Actually, Neesham and Anderson fight for the all-rounder spot in the New Zealand LOI teams. Though Anderson has cemented his place as of now, Neesham, by no means, is not worthy of a spot. Though he may not be as destructive as Anderson, he can prove to be a real value for money and, more so, when he is bought for a cheaper price.
2). Craig Simmons: With David Warner, Aaron Finch, Michael Hussey, Cameron White, etc., available for the opening slots, Craig Simmons is one guy who can come in for cheap. He was clearing the boundary lines at will during the Big Bash and has the ability to play according to the situation. He has scored 2 centuries in BBL this year, one of which came in challenging conditions. He has a good cricketing brain and can read the match situation very well.
3). Farhaan Behradien: From the South African angle, Quinton De Kock and Faf Du Plessis will be in the hit-list of many teams, but Behradien is an equally good hitter and a valuable middle-order player. He had a decent T20 domestic season in South Africa and is already in their international set up. It is just a matter of time before he cements his place in the international side in the shorter version of the game.
4). Beuran Hendricks: Hendricks is a 23-year-old young fast bowler from South Africa, who can swing the ball at 140+ kmph. With 28 wickets, he is the leading-wicket taker by far in this year’s domestic 20-20 season in South Africa. With all eyes on Mitchell Johnson, Morne Morkel, etc., he can be a very good value for money.
Uncapped Indian Players:
Players like Baba Aparajith, Vijay Zol, KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav are some of the youngsters who can be expected to make an impact. With most of the Indian international players retained by the teams, these players can make a real impact in any of the teams they play.