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Do away with big IPL auction say Capitals and KKR heads

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Published in Cricket
Wednesday, 01 December 2021 09:36

The big IPL auction has "outlived its usefulness." That is the view of Kolkata Knight Riders' chief executive offer Venky Mysore and co-owner of Delhi Capitals Parth Jindal.

Such a strong statement from the heads of two of the biggest T20 franchises came on Tuesday when the eight existing teams finalised their retentions ahead of the 2022 mega auction. While Mysore felt the big auction was no more the "level-playing field" it once was, back when it was first held in 2011, three years after the IPL's birth, Jindal said it was "heartbreaking" to invest time and money into so many players only to lose them three years later.

"There is a tipping point that's coming for the league where you have to question whether a big auction is really something that needs to be part of this whole process," Mysore told ESPNcricinfo while discussing Knight Riders' retentions on Tuesday. "Or you can do drafts for new players coming in, you can do trades, you can do loans and allow teams to build something for the long haul."

Both franchises retained four players each, but they had to release several names that had been part of their core group in the past few years. Knight Riders parted ways with Shubman Gill, Lockie Ferguson, Rahul Tripathi and Nitish Rana among others while Capitals let go of Shikhar Dhawan, Kagiso Rabada, R Ashwin and more.

While Shreyas Iyer had opted to head to the auction, Jindal felt that could been avoided. "It was heartbreaking to lose Shreyas Iyer, Shikhar Dhawan, a Kagiso Rabada, an Ashwin," Jindal said while speaking to host broadcaster Star Sports on Tuesday. "It's just that this auction process is built like this and I think going forward the IPL really needs to look at it because it's not really fair that you build up a team, you give youngsters a chance, you groom them through your set-up and they get opportunities, they play for your franchise, then they go and play for the county or their respective countries and then you lose them after three years."

Several of the IPL franchises now own an academy and have an in-house scouting system that taps grasroot and uncapped talent with the aim being in future those players can graduate to playing for the team. Mysore stated that with that much of an outlay the franchises deserve a return on investment by retaining players instead of letting them go to auction.

"Directionally at this stage if you ask me since the league has completed 14 years, the big auction has outlived its usefulness. And you have to reward franchises investing in scouting and academies, in growth. We have done that with KKR Academy and we have our scouting structure, both domestic (and) international. Very proud of the fact, someone sent me a note the other day that from 2018 we have had six uncapped players who have gone to play for India. You feel very happy that that we are making some contribution that regard as well.

"More importantly from a franchise standpoint, there's return on the kind of investment that you make and you feel good about that. There was a time when the big auction really was important to create that level-playing field, but even then we were sort of feeling like if you are going to give a franchise the opportunity to pick some players back it should be through right-to-match (RTM) cards rather than pre-auction retention."

When the IPL started in 2008, the original plan involved all players going back to the auction. However, before the 2011 mega auction, when two new teams - Pune Warriors and Kochi Tuskers - were added to the league, the IPL decided the eight original teams could retain four players each. Before the second mega auction, in 2014, Mysore suggested the RTM method so teams could retain their core. It was accepted and the teams were allowed to retain four players with two RTMs. In the 2018 mega auction the eight existing teams were allowed two RTMs again along with three retentions.

This time the IPL has removed the RTM option. And with the two new teams - Lucknow and Ahmedabad - allowed to pick three players each from the non-retained pool, both big name and uncapped players alike have opted not to be retained.

"My sense is this challenge will always occur as long as you have this pre-auction retention rule there," Mysore said. "Our recommendation has always been to say - please allow the marketplace to determine the price and allow teams to pick the numbers of people at the auction. So our consistent recommendation is put everybody back into the auction and if you are allowing existing teams to pick four people, give each of them four right-to-match cards and give three to the two new teams. So there is no confusion."

One downside to the RTM is that rival teams can always drive up the price of a player you want just to cut your auction purse. Pre-auction retention was designed to stop that but Mysore isn't convinced. "You can't blame anyone either because there's always that argument comes up why pre-auction retention? Then someone says, 'oh, you know, if you go only to the auction and have only right-to-match card, other teams know who the franchise is going to retain, they are going to run up the price.' I don't know that. I think the league has reached a level of maturity and all the people at the table, they also understand how this works. And they've been burnt also - if you try to use that strategy, just to drive somebody's price up so that they will have lesser money for the next lot of players, that can come back to haunt you if you really don't want that player. If you want that player then that's a different story."
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