If the inaugural IPL auction was more sentimental than pragmatic, the consequent ones saw business taking precedence over emotion, best exemplified by Deccan Chargers discharging their talisman VVS Laxman. The performance-over-sentiment syndrome could only intensify, as the IPL heads for a major shake-up next year, where all players would again go through the auction wringer.
Whereas, the investors and the franchisee-owners and their retinue owners were more or less unsure of the factors that govern the league—a plunge into the unknown—the entire clan now is better informed and aware of the demands of the game. Hence, the forthcoming auction would witness a measured and methodical approach than emotional and impulsive purchases. Investments would be more long-termish since the auctions would thereafter be a three-year affair. The preference would understandably be on the GenNext or those proven performers in the 25-32 age bracket.
Naturally, older players have much to prove this season, and would no longer be marquee fetches. For instance, Adam Gilchrist, the Kings XI Punjab’s skipper-mentor, who will be 42 by the auction. Though he is their most vital player, it’s unlikely that he’d be high on Punjab’s agenda.
Even those performing vintage legends such as Kallis, Mike Hussey, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid would find it difficult to command a commanding price. With the exception of Sachin Tendulkar, the rest of his contemporaries would be less favoured, and they need to extract enormous numbers to keep their future afloat. Tendulkar’s is a one-off case, the leverage granted to the last immortal of a fading era. Hence, even if he fails in this edition , it’s unlikely that Mumbai Indians would forsake him.
Besides, the auction wouldn’t be a lucrative pitch for whom IPL is a post-retirement first-resort. In the first edition, Mumbai Indians snapped Sri Lankan dasher Sanath Jayasuriya for a whopping $950,000, then 39 and still active in the T20 format. Not all of them will be aggressively sought after.
If team sources are to be believed, almost every team would look for a thorough overhaul, barring perhaps CSK. “In the first season, they went for big names and reputations, instead of assessing their form or their adeptness to this format or their possible peak years. Now everybody’s got a lot of exposure and the way they go about it would be different. I’m sure every team would be looking for massive overhauls, except maybe Chennai,” said a Kolkata Knight Riders’ insider.