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.

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India v New Zealand: Jesse Ryder rides again

Hopefully John Bracewell had far kinder words for the New Zealand batsmen on a day when they helped wrestle the momentum of this match away from India.

Bracewell had claimed his batsmen had batted like “dickheads” in their recent 4-0 ODI series loss to Bangladesh, but they appeared men transformed by comparison today.

No more so than Jesse Ryder and Kane Williamson, who put on 194 runs for the fifth wicket, the second highest partnership in New Zealand’s history. More importantly they helped secure their side at a time when they were rocking following the quick dismissals of Brendan McCullum and Ross Taylor.

But for both players, their scores were crucial as in theory both had something to prove: Williamson on this, his first Test innings and Ryder on his first test in 14 months.

Jesse Ryder's third Test hundred was a memable one

And the absence has clearly helped galvanise him into potentially something greater. For those who have followed the peaks and troughs of his career they have always known that his talent is undoubted but the application has perhaps not always been there.

His live fast, bat fast method maybe entertaining and at times destructive, but it is hardly in keeping with what New Zealand have needed from a player who clearly boasts outrageous talent. At times he is a brilliant batsman, opening the batting in shorter forms, but in the longer form a place in the middle order, with freedom to play his shots is most suited.

What New Zealand have wanted is greater dedication, a commitment to keep his nose out of trouble and perhaps reapply himself more firmly to the team’s policy of hard work and 11o percent effort. The absence, caused by injury and indiscretion, has helped reassert these values. Should he stay out of trouble off-the-pitch and further apply himself then things ought to look up for both him and his team.

Here was a knock which showed him at his most enterprising, but also his most dogged and determined. He played within himself, but was also forceful, particularly against the spinners whom he would attack if necessary, as he showed by smiting Harbhajan Singh over long-on for six. But he also used skill,  playing the ball late and selecting his shots well.

But, unbefitting for a man known for big hits and fast scoring, he also showed he could play sedately and risk-free, in short like a true Test batsman, for most of the day.

He helped guide his younger partner through his innings as they combined to grind India into the ground on a slow and unthreatening pitch, and in the process brought up his third Test hundred-all of which have been scored against India.

The one blemish on his day was his dismissal, right before the close, when he was rapped on the pad by a ball from Sreesanth and was dismissed, just minutes after bringing up his hundred. It was a poor end to a brilliant day for the New Zealander.

Doubtless his team’s fans and management will hope this is a launch pad for better things for the big-hitting batsmen.

His talent is well-known, his record highly respectable, with a Test average near 50 and a reputation as one of the finest hitters in the world. He had spoken prior to the match about how he has cut out the alcohol, promised to change his ways and the way people perceive him. He appears trimmer, and has spoken about feeling fitter and more concentrated when he was batting.

A New Zealand batting line up with Ryder in is a more challenging proposition for Test teams especially alongside Brendan McCullum, Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson, which augurs well after their disastrous tour of Bangladesh.

A word for Williamson, whose debut innings on a slow Asian wicket was perhaps the most assured since Alistair Cook was rushed into the England team in 2006.

Kane Williamson has shown impressive composure on debut

He was watchful, especially as he his renowned as a stroke-maker, determined and more importantly he got his timing and shot selection right, which are often difficult for batsmen, especially on debut and at a tender age of just 20.

It takes two batsmen to make a partnership, and though he played a junior role to Ryder, it was an important one. His moment may come tomorrow, with just 13 runs needed to bring up his maiden test hundred. It would be a wonderful moment for a young player enjoying something of a rapid rise through the ranks.

But today was about one man, and one man only. 14 months on from his last appearance, New Zealand’s fans will be delighted to see that Jesse Ryder is riding high again.