Last year a new cricket competition was launched. The Indian Premier League.
Over the past few weeks, more than England’s chances in the West Indies, the cricket-watchers have been chattering, or maybe even “tweating” about this year’s IPL Auction – which took place in the wee small hours of the 5th Feb (UK time). You may wonder why. Well the main reason has been because of the enormous amount of money that this competition involves and that this year England players were up for bids.
For those who are interested in the ins and outs of what the IPL is, go to this link:
and those clever bods at cricinfo will give you loads of details.
For those who like a broad picture approach, suffice to say that this is Twenty20 cricket paying loads of dosh to buy top international cricketers and get loads of publicity.
Last year the England and Wales Cricket Board stood somewhat aloof from this, as they saw it, commercial upstart – not least because they were rather late coming to the party and couldn’t get their act together to work out if it was OK to let some boys off the leash to lash the ball for dosh.
This year they clambered clumsily on board, having realised that the IPL is here to stay and if they didn’t come to a deal with England international and county players then all hell could break loose.
With just days to go before The Auction, the ECB, Counties, PCA and indeed players, found themselves in a bizarre public debate about whether 10% of an IPL “bought” player’s price was a fair whack for the Counties to get. All rather unseemly – being played out in the media before a single player had even been “bought”. Some commentators felt that a player getting the chance to earn, say one million US dollars for three weeks’ work shouldn’t blanch at losing 10% to their county – the county that had nurtured them and given them their first professional break. Others felt differently.
I was just confused by the figures as it seemed clear to me that any England player ending up in the IPL would only be able to play part of the season and his fee, therefore would be pro-ratered and so the sums bandied around in the media were smoke and mirrors anyway.
So we come to this year’s Auction. It couldn’t be quite the same as last year’s total free-for-all, as the contracts cricketers sign are for two years, and so this time not all franchises had deep pockets and loads of places to fill. This time the eight franchises (or as we would normally say, Teams) had 17 places to fill and a shortlist of 50 players.
All talk (twitter – see above) in these parts was who would bid for Andrew Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen and maybe Owais Shah. Nobody thought much of the chances of Paul Collingwood, Ravi Bopara, Samit Patel and Luke Wright. Sadly in the case of the last two mentioned, nobody much was interested.
Fred and KP went for over a million squids to Chennai and Bangalore respectively – though both were in bidding wars – Fred attracting bids from both the Punjabi Indians and Shane Warne’s Rajhastan Royals (last year’s winners).
Ravi, Owais and Paul were also snapped up – for somewhat smaller sums, but still amounts in excess of their county or central contracts and all three can not only be pleased for their bank balances, but it’ll do their confidence one hell of a boost when they consider those who were left on the shelf.
Aussies Stuart Clarke and Brad Haddin – for instance. Left to fight out for the remaining three places with 33 names up for them. It seems the cricket world changes faster than one might have believed possible. Two Englishmen are also in competition for these last slots – Luke Wright and Samit Patel – both who might justifiably feel miffed at losing out in the first round.
However, this is where we are now and all details can be found here:
I’m left to sum up not only my thoughts on the IPL but to wonder at some of the hypocrisy and cant being spouted by some of the Tabloids’ finest.
First my thoughts: I totally understand sportsmen (or women) who seize an opportunity to bank a few bucks. Their careers are mostly short-lived and in their years of success they give us fans an immeasurable amount of pleasure (and pain) but great entertainment. I also have no problem with incredibly rich people – Vijay Mallya and Shilpa Shetty buying into IPL teams with the money they have earned with their skills. They should not be castigated for investing in a sport they care for – no matter what their motives are, personal, business, self-aggrandisement – don’t care, they are putting money into a sport that THEIR country holds in almost as much regard as a religion.
Then the “MEDJA” – well, most reporters can’t be bothered to get their facts right. All the headline reports of “Million pound cricketers” – go and get the details. Read the small print. Neither KP or Fred are earning anything like a million squidders. Sure they’ll bank a mighty wedge, but for a certain Scottish writer in The Sun to take the moral high ground is the one thing over this whole farrago that really got my goat.
Bill Leckie – for the love of all things decent. A man who writes, slaveringly, about football – where weekly salaries outweigh anything even vaguely decent, and a man who writes a so-called “news page” all about Big Brother and such. It beggars belief to hear him complain that the amounts changing hands in the IPL are “obscene in these times of global recession”. Fortunately for my little transistor radio, I was in the car when I heard this nauseating hypocrisy. If I’d been at home the dear little pink square radio would have been hurled out into the sleet and sludge.
Now the razzmatazz is over for the year. England still have a job to do in the West Indies and whether Flintoff, Pieterson and Collingwood have had their heads turned by being publicly valued in actual monetary terms will affect their performances on the park we have yet to see.
Confident with the players’ integrity I am sure that it will make no difference. Fred will bowl his little pink heart out. KP will bat with a debonair insouciance that is the envy of all those less talented, and Colly will leap like a salmon for impossible catches.
Those who have been bought by the IPL will go and play on the Sub-Continent, some with success, some with humiliation, but they will earn their wages and they will learn from playing with top-notch Twenty20 proponents of the game. They will become stronger and better and this will benefit their counties and England.
It’s a good thing and only a fool would descry it as simply money.