The new year, 2018, has brought a buzz to the most popular sporting event of the Indian sports calendar, the Indian Premier League (IPL). This tournament, having started a decade ago, has become the platform for cricketers to flourish. It is a live soap opera for both the old and the new cricket followers and a significant commercial opportunity for corporates which has resulted in the professional franchise model we see today.
Reinstatement of the Rajasthan Royals and the Chennai Super Kings, the two glamourous teams, has evoked a feeling of nostalgia. While the Royals brought in the spirit and memories of the brave Rajput warriors of the past, the Kings from the south became renowned for their consistency. The battle between the two in the first final in Mumbai remains etched in our minds, when the young Royal brigade under the astute captaincy of Shane Warne, got the better of the cool, calculative and the most successful Indian captain, M.S. Dhoni.
The new media sponsors Star Sports, along with the BCCI, had a glittering press conference on the 4th of January to announce the names of the players being retained by the 8 franchisees. The interest and analysis by the media and fans pre, during and post retention far outdid that of the multi-million dollar transfers of football, basketball and baseball superstars.
The valuation of a player is always a difficult task, especially in a sport as uncertain as cricket. I can still recall meeting the WorldTel owner, the late Mark Mascarenhas, when he had signed Sachin Tendulkar for a 5 year contract worth 30 crores back in 1995. Most of us were bewildered as to how he would recover his investment. Well, he did so, 3 times over.
The top performers in the 20-20 Mushtaq Ali domestic tournament and the Big Bash being held in Australia, will be able to fetch a good price and with far more transparency and analysis, the auction will generate much more interest and debate than ever before. Every rupee will be important for those franchises who have relinquished their book value. Will some teams find themselves regretting and ruing their retentions?
The man of the match for me will be Ben Stokes. The teams that may be able to afford him will be Rajasthan and Punjab. The rest may not have enough funds for a big purchase due to their spending on the retention of players.
The IPL auction on the 27th and 28th of January promises to be the next big spectacle, and with successful and powerful corporate franchises, backed by professional support staff and legendary cricketers, spiced with glamourous celebrities, the drop of the auctioneer’s gavel is what everyone is looking forward to.
About the author :
Yajurvindra Singh is a former cricketer who represented India between 1977 and 1979. He enjoys the unique distinction of achieving 2 world records – 5 catches in an innings, and 7 catches in a match - on his debut.
Disclaimer: Please note that the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Rajasthan Royals or its management.