Sports auctions can be nervous, tough and mostly pride swallowing siege with bouts of immediate joy. Remember, it’s the greatest feeling for the promoter, as he sits across to own the ‘greatest’ talent with zillions of fan following. Its ultimate high that keeps compulsive gambler play more. Therefore, it would be difficult to round off the feeling in a single word. Have experienced three sports league auctions and last year hustled team owners to spend more in player auctions. More spend in auctions keeps players, league, federations & fans happy. Gives headlines and even builds a “Halo” around the brand. IPL 2017 auctions saw 67 players picked in a little over 90 Crores.

Demystifying mindset & trends behind the razzmatazz of cricket auction.

1. Ben Stokes is not the real news, Lords losing sheen is 

West may like or dislike IPL but cant ignore, no more. All best T20 talent vie for draft and get lucky like Ben Stokes this time. He debuts in style with Afgan player. Indias footprint & supremacy strengthens. Most watched cricket final will now, not be played in Lords and Englishmen are getting used to it. Eden and Wankhede fast becoming able contender for numero uno cricketing real estate as Lords one day will eventually walk into the sunset of its glorious career. This is the beginning.

2. Batsmen are OK, Strike bowlers – Fresh Legs in Demand
Most teams had their batting lineups sorted. Now off to bowling. Teams have realised – the team with better speedsters win and this is the mantra this year as well. Potently proved by SRH last year.

3. Desi Talent Aapnaao

Owners & Technical directors will want the best. In PWL, owners, family cousin was overlooked in favour of a better player this year. Also, domestic players getting more money is also another interesting trend. Owners understood that Desis are only as strong as the weakest player in the lineup and thus, best domestic players in demand.

4. Decorations away, Performance in

8 weeks ago, when Geeta and Babita Poghat, biggest wrestling poster girls in India were sold at base price. Eyebrows were raised.
Not today, when marquee player Ishant Sharma & World No 1, Imran Tahir going unsold shows that teams are becoming cautious about their spending unlike previous seasons where all teams splurged on big names. Now, noticeably the wallet is in owners hands.

5. Local games hunting ground; Few Teams do home work;
TNPL and Inter-state T20s are becoming hunting grounds for teams now. 66 players bought in 2017 #IPLAuction out of a possible 357 Fresh talent, as fresh talent plays fearlessly.
Harsha Bhogle Complemented on Twitter “Franchises are showing their homework with prices for Aniket Chaudhary, T Natarajan and Basil Thampy. Hope they get games though”

6. Money logic settling in : Some repeat offenders, still:

Pawan Negi, last year was at 8 Crore. DD released & IPL drafted him at 30 Lakhs. Lucky, he, was again sold at 1 Cr today. So who decides the price? Wise men (Sharks in suits), No. Bidders still do not have complete grip of players worth. Not sure will they, anytime sooner.

7. Owners Watch Game, Don’t rely on Excel sheets:

Auction is on owners money and because of their brilliant off beat decisions they have amassed wealth. Same for sports. In shorter format
Player is Star today, Gone tomorrow and Reappear next week. Sustaining in goes a long way in shorter format. So few involved owners have started to watch player performance with keen eye. Further, I suspect, they are getting players dossier for past year performance made, independently.

8 Specialising seems to be the key :
SRH last year had pace attack. MI now has balanced bowling attack….& DD has mostly wicketkeepers (God Save). Intrigues or rather should freak out owners at the end of the season. But polarisation happening rapidly. In PWL, few relied in best foreign talents and others went for current form plus maverick youth.

9. Starting to Celebrate on table

Auction Table is owners playground. Auctions set the mood in the camp and owning World XI line up is never possible, hence promoters smile, celebrate and at times sledge tables besides their… have seen it in badminton, wrestling & today in cricket. So be it, its their swag time on live tv.

10. To Err is Human:
Getting best players lineup never 100 % guarantee for trophy. There is never a secret recipe. So team owners have started to take auction like an occupational hazard without security / parachute cover. They believe better luck next time!

First Published | 21 February 2017 4:02 PM
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