Daily Archives: 11 January 2011

IPL-IV: Uncapped Players or Drafting Rules Without a Thinking Cap?

We are now done with the IPL Auction of “capped” Indian players and all overseas players! Most franchises have picked up their max quota of 10 overseas players and many of them have about 6 or 7 “capped” Indian players. Franchises are now looking to make up their roster with “uncapped” Indian players.

Correction. They are now frantically trying to grab/poach/seduce/coerce “uncapped” Indian players!

Suddenly, a Ranji Trophy Final (starting today, 11 January 2011, between Baroda and Rajasthan) is likely to have an important and impressive audience!

We should expect to see a large number of suits from RCB, Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals, Deccan Chargers, Pune Warriors, Kings XI Punjab and KKR at the Ranji finals! The Kochi team officials may not be there in suits. Not they they cannot afford suits! But more because they seem to revel in their hideously coloured T-shirts (I mean, should that hideous hue of orange not be banned from the colour spectrum?). It is likely that officials from Delhi will not be there at the Ranji Finals because they might consider the cricket to be too distracting!

And Chennai does not need to be there either because, in between discharging his duties as President of the All India Pocket Billiards Federation, BCCI President Elect, President of the All Madras “I sleep between 2pm and 3pm at work” Bank Workers’ Federation, Governing Council Member of the IPL, President of The All India Association of Conflict-Free Life, President of The All India Chess Federation, Owner of CSK, Owner of India Cements, Owner of Chennai, Future Owner of this Blog, Future Owner of Bill Gates and Future Owner of MS Dhoni, Inc, etc, N. Srinivasan, will be capable of making the sun rise in the West if needed! He can make anything happen in India and witout either declaring or managing his several conflicts of interest. He is a great guy, this Cheenu.

So, yes. The Ranji Finals, which has never seen more than 10 people in attendance — and that is including the ground staff! — should suddenly expect to see song, dance, drama, lights, TV crew and action!

The aim of the suits that will descend on the Ranji Finals is to sign up “uncapped” India players like Ambati Rayudu, Chahar, et al.

An “uncapped” player, by IPL’s definition, is a player who has never been selected (need not have played, mind you) for Team India in any format. So, the fact that Jaydev Unnadkat has been “capped” for India in a Test match, makes him part of the “capped India player” auction for the IPL (in other words, for T20s)!

Go figure!

This rule makes the 3-hour “strategy break” in IPL-2 look like the Theory of General Relativity!

This means that players like Ajinkya Rahane, Abhinav Mukund, Manish Pandey, Ambatti Rayudu, et al, can only earn a maximum of (approximately) Rs 20 Lakhs (approx $40,000)! Why? They have never been “selected” for Team India in Tests or ODIs or T20s and so, cannot enter the main auction! The fact that they represented India in the U-19 World Cup counts for nothing.

Meanwhile an “uncapped” overseas player like Dan Christian or Aiden Blizzard or Prospect Utseya can be allowed to offer themselves for bidding at a base price of anything from $20,000 to $100,000. Remember, Dan Christian has never played for Australia and many Australians will not have heard of Aiden Blizzard.

Blizzard was picked up by Mumbai Indians for only $20,000 and on seeing the hand-shakes and hi-fives all around the Mumbai Indians table at the end of the successful “purchase”, I could be forgiven for thinking that Nita Ambani had just successfully proved Fermat’s Last Theorem!

Dan Christian himself probably did not know how many zeros there were in a million dollars until his co-countrymen (Geoff Marsh, Geoff Lawson, Greg Shipperd and Darren Lehman) conspired to ‘up’ his asking price to a figure close to a million dollars! Perhaps he is worth that much. Who knows. And who am I to dictate how intelligent (or otherwise) the IPL owners are in their spending of their money!

Similarly, Mitchell Marsh, a little known cricketer and a player with somewhat ordinary abilities gets nearly $300,000 — his dad was, of course, at the bidding table that won his bid! If his dad had even a prick of conflict-riddled guilt, all he had to do was look at the head table and spot a beaming N. Srinivasan to feel assured that all is well in his world!

Let us put that into perspective: Dad or no dad, Mitchell Marsh is on a pay packet of about Rs 1.5 crores while, together, his team — Pune Warriors — can aim for a collection of Ajinkya Rahane, Shreevats Goswami, Abhinav Mukund, Manish Pandey (this guy has an IPL century in his resume, by the way), Deepak Chahar, Harmeet Singh and Ambati Rayudu, and still be left with about Rs 10 Lakhs in the kitty!

Is the BCCI then surprised that there is a mad skirmish for “uncapped” Indian players?

While I have no right to (and do not) begrudge Marsh his pay packet, I have to remind everyone that Mitchell Marsh was an Under-19 Australia player until last year. Players like Manish Pandey, Abhinav Mukund, Shrivats Goswami, et al, played in the World Under-19 cricket tournament in the edition prior to the one Mitch Marsh played in. Goswami, Mukund, Pandey (along with the more “lucky” Saurabh Tiwary, Virat Kohli, et al) performed exceedingly well in that ICC World Cup U-19 edition and helped India win the title. So, why do they have to sit out the main auction while a Mitch Marsh enters the main draw?

Christian, Blizzard and Marsh did enter the main auction along with several other “uncapped overseas” players. Some of them did have a good pay-day. That is not my issue at all. My question is that, while Dan Christian and Mitchell marsh have an “open market” opportunity to get their market value (either conflict-aided or not), why are Manish Pandey, Abhinav Mukund, Harmeet Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Shrivats Goswami, et al, denied a similar opportunity? Why “fix” the price of “uncapped” Indian players?

A team like Mumbai Indians or RCB can fiddle the books by offering an “uncapped” player additional incentives — a “desk-job” in United Breweries or Reliance with a neat pay packet, say! CSK can make the sun rise in the West. So, to offer additional sweeteners to an “uncapped” player ought to be easier than ascertaining if his kumkum spot has been affixed at the center of his forehead for our good Cheenu. Our honorable Cheenu could do that in between an Indian Chess Federation meeting, a BCCI meeting and an important M&A Meeting for India Cements even if these three meetings run between 2pm and 3pm on the same day; that is how well our good Cheenu can manage his conflicts.

Conflicts? What conflicts?

A team like Punjab could offer a few hugs from the good Zinta.

Poor Kochi. Apart from offering a slap-opportunity with Sreesanth, a full dental check-up eye check-up from part-time orthodontist optometrist (coach) Geoff Lawson and a hideously colored ghoulish orange T-Shirt, they cannot offer an “uncapped” player anything else!

What has happened, therefore, is the commencement of a turf war between the teams for “uncapped” Indian players, especially from suit-laden teams that have more carrots than one can poke a stick at!

Meanwhile, on the flip-side a player like Pankaj Singh or VRV Singh, who have played only a handful of games for India and are, hence, forced to enter the main auction at a ridiculously inflated base-price, find no takers!

Who thinks up these rules? Remind me to never smoke what these guys smoke!

I suggest that the auction always needs to be carried out in two rounds:

  • Capped players — local and international.
  • “Uncapped” players — local and international.

That way, we could include into the second pile, players like Mukund, Pandey, et al. A player like Pankaj Singh or VRV Singh, can opt to go into the “capped” pool or the “uncapped” pool.

All of this discussion is academic and moot though, because I am confident that the “I” in IPL does not stand for “intelligent”!

— Mohan

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