IPL player retention: Why batsmen are more precious than bowlers

We examine the strategies employed by IPL teams in holding on to their players.


The eight Indian Premier League teams on Friday submitted the list of players they wanted to retain going into the February 12-13 auction in Bangalore. A look at the list of 24 players shows some interesting trends.

Twelve of these players are pure batsmen — 10 Indian and two foreigners — while nine are all-rounders — four Indians and five foreigners. Just three are bowlers — and all of them are foreigners.

Speaking to Mail Today, the coach of one of the IPL teams explained: "It is the capped Indian batsmen who are of prime importance as every team wants one or two of them in the playing XI. As a result, if you have in-form Indian batsmen already in your team, there is no point in letting them go. It would be foolish to let them go and buy them back with the 'right to match' card with more money than they would take in the retention process."

That more or less explains the reason why Virender Sehwag has been left out in the cold — he is not just out of the current team, but has also failed to score runs in domestic cricket, while someone like Gautam Gambhir, who is in decent form, has been retained by Kolkata Knight Riders.

"If a player isn't in form, there is no point retaining him as the IPL is played over a short period of time and momentum is very important,” the coach said.

On the bowling front, there are as many as 10 current Indian bowlers who have been completely ignored by the teams.

Explaining this, the coach said: "Bowlers only get four overs each. So unless you are someone like a Sunil Narine or Lasith Malinga or Dale Steyn, it is very difficult for you to get retained. The order of preference is: batsmen, all-rounders, domestic players and then bowlers.”

The coach also felt it would be easier to buy back foreign players or look for better ones at the auction, rather than wasting the auction purse by retaining a foreign player.

"The 'right to match' card has given most franchises more latitude for planning, and there are a few more possible replacements for most international players. The question that a team should ask itself is not 'is he a good player' but 'do we require or lack his skills'. It is always better to get foreign players at the auction, as you can only play four of them,” he said.

But the coach is quick to point out that uncapped Indian players will be the most important buys at the auction.

"Every team ends up playing five to six uncapped players in its XI and it is important that you make the right choices."



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