Indian cricket fans will be hooked to their TV screens and smartphones as the paddles will go up at the Indian Premier League (IPL) player auction in Kochi on Friday. With two media rights partners for the IPL, viewers will have multiple experts to listen to as franchise owners and coaches will have a lot of talking to do.
Here are some talking points ahead of the mini-auction.
SAM CURRAN BUZZ
Selection in team sport is all about timing your performances. But it rings true more ahead of player auctions. England all-rounder Sam Curran knows all about it. After being voted the player of the 2018 Test series by the Indian team in England in 2018, he pocketed a million-dollar deal from Punjab Kings at the 2019 IPL action. Now with a Man of the series showing for winners England in the recent T20 World Cup to show, he is again going to be hot property.
Having made a mark as a baby-faced swing-bowling all-rounder, Curran has come a long way and transformed into an evolved T20 bowler. His death overs efficiency in the World Cup may see his previous franchise CSK, in search of a replacement for Dwayne Bravo, go hard for him. Just about every team with enough cash in hand may express interest in him, taking his prize up.
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Curran will have to stave off competition from Australia’s Cameroon Green and his Test skipper Ben Stokes. “It’s a very weird one. You go in with your base price and you are like ‘here’s my name’. I will be watching on the TV and you are like ‘keep the paddle up there’,” he told Cricket club podcast. “I am in the same bracket as Stokesy and a few other all-rounders that will come up. Anything can happen.”
The introduction of the Impact player in the IPL has the potential of turning it into a 12-a-side contest, if teams use their strategy right. Unlike the Mushtaq Ali T20 where the Impact player could come in between over 6-14 of an innings, no such limitations will be set in the IPL playing conditions. A pure bowler after completing a productive 4-over spell can well be replaced by a batter to lend depth to the batting side during their run-chase.
The catch being, the Impact player has to be an Indian unless there are less than four overseas players in the playing eleven. Teams will be naming four substitutes ahead of the match and any one of them could come in as an Impact player during the match.
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“…the extra dynamic of having the potential wild card player. That’s added a massive dimension to the thinking around auction strategy,” CSK head coach Stephan Fleming said.
“We might look for certain players who if we come to a certain surface, may give us the ability to change it up, mid-game. So sometimes, the bits and pieces players aren’t as valuable. You can add more specialists,” RCB Director of Cricket Operations Mike Hesson told his team website.
ASHES OVER IPL
Everyone wants a slice of the IPL. With the player purse going up, two new teams added, media rights having leapfrogged, why wouldn’t the best T20 players in the world want to be there? There are also those – the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Joe Root, not best fits, many would say to short-from cricket. But what’s wrong with trying your luck?
Then, there are cricketers for whom the Ashes counts for everything. Mitchell Starc is giving the IPL a miss yet again. With his toe-crushing yorkers and mean fast bowling ways, Starc has all the attributes to become a crowd favourite but that’s for another year. Australian Test captain Pat Cummins, too, has made himself unavailable to be better prepared against England. England’s swing-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes has also sacrificed IPL money to keep himself in shape for the Ashes.
Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith have avoided the ignominy of going unsold. Cheteshwar Pujara has also had enough of being roped in as a goodwill buy. Instead, he will play county cricket in England.
AUCTIONEER HUGH EDMEADES BACK
Hugh Edmeades will be coming back to conduct his fifth IPL auction in Kochi. He had crashed down in the middle of the bidding during the mega auction last year due to ‘postural hypotension’ but has reported fit this time around.
Indian commentator Charu Sharma, a professional auctioneer himself, had saved the day for the BCCI, rushing from his nearby residence in no time by conducting proceedings with elan. No courtesies have been extended to Sharma, one learns, to be present in Kochi.