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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South Africa’s key men are hitting form ahead of the World Cup

Always the bridesmaid and never the bride in international cricket are South Africa. The biggest nation never to win an ICC trophy now that England has finally walked away with some silverware, but could next year’s tournament in India finally be their year?

Well going into every World Cup tournament, South Africa are always among the favourites, and you’d need to be fairly stingy not to name them this time.

This is the first World Cup in a long time which contains no clear favourites for the title, and while India’s home support and Sri Lanka’s unique talent are important, the sheer power and talent at South Africa’s disposal must also be considered.

Anyone who watched the impressive dismantling of Zimbabwe, granted against opposition far below their standards, will have been excited. Coach Corrie Van Zyl took the opportunity to blood younger players such as Peter Ingram, Rusty Theron and 21-year old David Miller and all three took their opportunity to impress.

Captain Graham Smith was equally impressed, lauding the performances of all three and declaring: “I think it’s great, you want to see these guys coming in and performing well.”

Yet what will have most delighted Smith will have been the form of three of the key men in South Africa’s batting line-up, all of whom will play a decisive part in their chances in India next year.

Firstly at the top of the order was Hashim Amla, who scored two centuries and averaged almost 80 over 3 games, then there was the return of J P Duminy, who after a relatively quiet 12 months, finished the series with his highest ODI score, and the continued success of A B De Villiers who showed that taking the gloves has not affected his form with the bat.

The importance of these three to South Africa’s chances in India cannot be underestimated. Of all of South Africa’s batsmen, these are the three best suited to scoring in India, where the slower, spinning surfaces tend to suit the spin bowlers and players who play with their wrists and score through placement as much as power.

All three have impressive records in India, Amla averages over 100  there after a frankly stupendous tour last year, De Villiers averages over 50 and racked up his highest test score of 217, while JP Duminy smashed 99 not out against Royal Challengers Bangalore. An innings which led Ian Chappell to label him “a great in the making”.

These three will be the beating heart of South Africa’s challenge for honours in India, and while their performances in the Pakistan series will probably provide a better barometer of how well their players are doing, the signs so far suggest that when the time comes, South Africa and their dangermen will be up for the challenge.