The IPL Auction: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

For the purists the IPL is the work of cricket’s version is an evil, a Twenty20 cashcow corrupting the purer form of the game. Yet look beyond the hyperbole (which the IPL does very well) and there is something about it, a strange alluring attraction of seeing the world’s best players congregated together.

Nothing is more attractive than seeing the world’s best players being valued and sold off to the highest bidder at will. It is a means of quantifying value and skill-something normally measured purely by runs and wickets.

Meanwhile it also throws up the intriguing prospect of spicy encounters ensuing, Shane Warne and Paul Collingwood or Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds will certainly enjoy sharing dressing rooms.

So here’s a look at the IPL auction and those who could prove value for money, those that probably won’t and those who probably never would have in the first place.

The Hits

Shakib Ul-Hasan ($425,000: Kolkata Knight Riders)

The world’s best all-rounder according to ICC and a steal at that price. Capable spinner, capable batsmen and a proven international who has been pivotal in Bangladesh’s recent resurgence. This could be the tournament which catapults him onto the world stage.

Davy Jacobs ($190,000: Mumbai Indians)

Proven T20 performer with the Warriors and an explosive opening batsman who showed his capability in last year’s Champions League. With other big hitters fetching top dollar, the South African could prove to be a steal at that price.

Aaron Finch ($300,000: Delhi Daredevils)

About to make his Australia T20 debut and you can be sure that his value will skyrocket if he performs well. Delhi will be delighted to have snapped him up before he can showcase his talents.

Eoin Morgan ($350,000: Kolkata Knight Riders)

Before Morgan came along England were mere Twenty20 contenders but now they are world champions thanks in no small part to the wristy Irish genius. Hits the ball in unusual areas-a nightmare for opposing captains-and a brilliant finisher in all forms of the game who any team would want coming in at two or three wickets down.

JP Duminy ($300,000: Deccan Chargers)

A surprise, mainly that he went for such a low price. After fetching $950,000 previously it’s a surprise to see his value drop so far. Sure his recent international form has been disappointing but he’s a class act capable of exploding with the bat in long or short form and a superb fielder to boot.

The Misses

Johan Botha ($950,000: Rajasthan Royals)

So much for a consistent if unspectacular off-spinner. A solid performer, capable of hitting lower order runs and fielding well to boot but it’ll be intriguing to see whether he can live up to the price tag.

Adam Gilchrist ($900,000: Kings XI Punjab)

The guy’s a bona fide legend and a one-time explosive batsmen. Sad thing is that those times were probably four or five years ago. Averaged only 30 in the English T20 season for Middlesex so why, bar experience and leadership qualities and his name, he is worth so much is head scratchingly mystifying.

Robin Uthappa ($2.1 million: Pune Warriors)

On his day he’s a match-winner, but for that price you could pick up a Dwayne Bravo, Graeme Smith, Ishant Sharma and Michael Hussey. Has much to prove and obviously has the talent to perform but does he have the consistency to justify that price tag?

Subramaniam Badrinath ($850,000: Chennai Super Kings)

A run-scorer for sure, and a good one at that. But he has precious little in the way of Twenty20 pedigree and lacks the explosive ability of say Kieron Pollard or AB De Villiers who fetched a similar price.

Ravindra Jadeja ($950,000: Kochi)

The very definition of a bits and pieces player, a decent batsmen and a decent spinner but he scarcely does both facets to be a match-winner which at that price he’d need to be. With Jayawardene and Muralitheran purchased at higher prices by the Kochi franchise it seems they have bought him to support both, but have they paid too much for a utility man?

The Ugly

Brian Lara (Unsold)

Quite what a 41 year old who has been retired from the international game for 4 years and who recently flopped on his comeback in Zimbabwe was expecting is up for debate. His continued presence in the contest was a surprise, and perhaps now it’s time the legend started looking at that great cricketing gig in the sky.

Graeme Swann (Unsold)

Pure English politik. Indian teams were worried about his involvement, though that didn’t stop the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad getting snapped up. Rumours of a lack of a doosra or mystery seem slightly mystifying given that he has risen to the pinnacle of the game using his own method of spin bowling magic.

Tamim Iqbal (Unsold)

The next Sehwag according to some. His absence is a loss for the tournament, as he’ll probably go on and become a star over the next 12 months and have people begging for him to come back next year.

Jesse Ryder (Unsold)

An explosive batsmen, capable bowler and by all accounts readily available for service. His inability to find suitors is frankly bizarre, especially given that he has recently excelled on the sub-continent with New Zealand.

James Anderson (Unsold)

The second best fast bowler in the world behind Dale Steyn who cost $1.2 million, and a recent Ashes winner and match winner to boot. Another capable performer who is a real victim of English politik. While he lacks the versatility with the ball in the shorter form as his team-mate Broad, as he’s recently shown he’s in the prime of his life and would have been a real asset to any team.

Why England’s Selectors Would Be Wrong to Write off Ravi Bopara

Brighter Times for Bopara

The rise of England’s cricket team over the past 18 months has seen its fair share of winners and losers. For every Jonathan Trott, Eoin Morgan and Steven Finn who has thrived, there has been a Joe Denly, Owais Shah and Ryan Sidebottom who has been cast aside.

Yet has there been a bigger loser in this turn of events than Ravi Bopara?

Cast your mind back twelve months and Bopara was busy racking up his third test hundred and becoming only the fifth Englishman to rack up three consecutive Test Match centuries.

He had enjoyed a decent (at least by the standards England set) World T20 tournament and caused a fair stir in the IPL for the Kings XI Punjab.

His form appeared to have ensured that England had found another batsman capable of performing well in all-forms of the game, and also found that long awaited answer to the troublesome number 3 position.

Ashes struggles cast Bopara out of England reckoning

Yet the rest-as we now know is history. It’d be interesting to know-and unsurprisingly he has not divulged to great length his thoughts on the matter-what Bopara makes of his Ashes campaign. His situation is probably comparable to those that Ian Bell experienced during the 2005 Ashes.

Unlike his previous struggles in Sri Lanka, where Bopara simply was dismantled by the Sri Lankan bowlers, here it was more of a working over in a pressure cooker environment which got too much for the Essex man.

In the end his failures brought Jonathan Trott into the fold, and England ended up winning the Ashes while Bopara was left to stew in County Cricket while his former team-mates celebrated victory at the Oval.

Since then, Bopara has found the way back into the England team a hard one.

He was omitted from the squads for the tours of South Africa and Bangladesh, was accused of ball tampering by Dermot Reeve while away in New Zealand, was reduced to a role largely as a spectator during England’s T20 success and a poor run of early season form in County Cricket.

Conceivably, given the relative success of Morgan and Trott, Bopara would find himself third in line for a vacancy in a batting line-up, and even then his favoured spot at 3 appears far beyond him.

Thus a position at 5 or 6 is more likely-though his best chance may come when Paul Collingwood goes-as he offers the same measure of fielding and bowling as the Durham man.

Yet there are signs that Bopara is beginning to turn things around again during his time with Essex, playing key roles in their T20 victories over Glamorgan and blazing 96 off 65 balls to put away Hampshire.

His latest knock was the best of them all-with 168 runs scored off 140 balls to defeat West Indies A, while also providing valuable contributions with his medium paced bowling-which appears to be improving all the time-as his recent run of wickets has shown.

Back on Track?

Speaking after the game, he underlined his desire to feature for his country again. He said: “It’s always nice to score runs and to do it when you’ve got selectors watching is obviously pleasing and hopefully if I carry on playing like this it will lead to a place in the full England squad again.”

Carry on like this and a recall will almost certainly come. Whether he has quite done enough to earn that recall for this summer’s international fixtures is open for debate, but a summer of hard yards in county cricket could well do some good to a player who often appears to find things all too easy.

But it would be foolish to write off Bopara any time soon, at 25, he may yet live up to the promise which many people saw in him.

Essex and Holland’s Ryan ten Doeschate deserves an IPL chance

Well worth an IPL chance

While it may not have surpassed the feeling of beating England with his native Netherlands as his moment at Lords, had Essex managed to build on his century and overhaul Middlesex’s mammoth total of 200 then for Ryan ten Doeschate, it would have run it very close.

His century-102 runs in 54 balls-was a quite monumental effort, containing 5 fours and 7 sixes as he single-handedly kept Essex in the hunt. When he was out-caught trying to swing another six over the off side-in the 19th over, it effectively signalled the end of Essex’s hopes.

It caps a highly productive season thus far for the Dutchman. Despite the T20 season only being four games old-ten Doeschate has already smashed 247 runs in 4 innings at a strike rate of 187.

That alone would be enough to make ten Doeschate a vital part of any one day unit, but add in his highly useful bowling-first class average around 30-which remains useful in T20, as an overall average of 22 and an economy rate of around 7 testify.

While with 479 runs and 25 wickets in 9 County Championship matches, he is an integral part of Essex’ hopes of remaining in Division One.

Some have already speculated about whether such form will see the Dutchman follow the route of fellow associate stars Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce by playing for England.

Though the South-African born all-rounder admitted: “There’s nothing English about me, I’m South African through and through.

“I’m very grateful to the English game and certainly very fond of county cricket but England have enough good homegrown players.

“It would be wrong for them to dip into the pot every time somebody did a little something special.”

Given the strength of resources available to South Africa, with the relatively recent addition of Ryan McLaren who perhaps offers more with the ball than ten Doeschate while lacking his dynamism with the bat, a call-up is unlikely.

Yet on this form an IPL one certainly wouldn’t be.

It seems slightly bizarre that with IPL contracts being given out to his considerably less talented team-mates Graham Napier and Ravi Bopara, though perhaps given the mixed bag performances those two-the IPL have grown wary of Essex all-rounder’s.

But should he continue to put on displays like those he gave to the crowds at Lords, perhaps an IPL call-up will become little more than a formality-and having made it onto the reserve list before, for a paltry 20,000 dollars, some would say he deserves a chance.

As a born entertainer, and a cricketing natural, he could prove superb value for any one of the Indian Premier League’s big spenders.