Hammer Man gears up for IPL

Renowned auctioneer Richard Madley gives a peep into his preparations for the IPL auction.

Richard Madley (File) has used the same hammer in all the IPL auctions. [Getty Images]

New Delhi: When renowned auctioneer Richard Madley leaves the British Isles for India on Sunday for the IPL player auction, he would have safely packed the world’s “most valuable gavel in world auctioneering”, the same one that he has always used in the six-year history of the lucrative T20 league.

Madley, who considers the IPL auctions one of the highlights of his distinguished career, would also pack an extra gavel, or hammer, and some extra throat pastilles because, after all, this time the auction will last two days, February 12 and 13.

“Just in case...,” he says.

The Senior Director at Dreweatts Fine Art Auctioneers in UK, also called the ‘Hammer Man’, is preparing more seriously than ever as some new elements at the auction, like the Right To Match (RTM) cards for the franchises and bids in Indian rupees instead of dollars, would keep him on his toes all through.

“The RTM is a completely new concept to the auction world and has no other precedent which I am aware of,” Madley, who has 35-year experience in auctioneering, told MAIL TODAY in an interview.

“I think it’s an interesting concept as it allows previous owners of players to watch how highly their competitors value their old players. The previous team will not have to ‘chase the price’ in the bidding, but to sit back and watch how market forces operate in the saleroom,” he said about the RTM rule.

“There’ll be some very strong tactical bidding and some teams may be able to buy back a previous player at a lower price, or scupper the aspirations of a competitor by buying back a start player who their competitors had set their heart on,” he said, looking into the possible scenarios.

For the uninitiated, Madley, who has just completed the ECB Level-I umpire’s course, further explains the rule.

“In practice, I’ll sell each player to the highest bidder, call out the important word ‘sold’ and name the price and the final bidder. I’ll then look towards the player’s previous team to offer them the option to buy back that player at the same price. If the option is exercised the player will be sold back to his previous team at the same figure,” he said.

Getting used to the Indian rupees would admittedly be “daunting” for Madley. “In my career I’ve always conducted auction in US$ or UK£ and this will set a new landmark in being the highest profile auction being conducted in this currency,” he informed.

Madley could be a tired man at the end of this auction. “I remember how physically exhausted I was at the end of the inaugural IPL auction at the Oberoi Hilton in Mumbai six years ago,” he recalled.

Giving a peep into his auction preparations, Madley said it would include a variety of things, like learning to pronounce players’ names correctly.

“A week before the auction I’ll start to review the player list [likely to be finalised only a day before the auction] and look at the pronunciation, [players’] specialisation and price. I’m interested to see which ‘marquee’ players will come up early in proceedings and then which players will be allocated to the specialist groups,” he said. “I’m conscious about timings and maintaining a good pace. I simply need to see that a certain number of players are offered on that first day.”

Madley disclosed that he has used the same hammer in all IPL auctions, besides carrying a spare one.

“It’s the most valuable gavel in world auctioneering,” he stressed. “My trademark is that I wear a silk handkerchief in my top pocket and will choose a bright and jolly tie from my wardrobe before I set off for India. I must not forget to pack some extra throat pastilles!”

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