IPL Auction Dynamics

We’re all fresh off another IPL auction with crazy numbers and unprecedented buys. Some are surprising, some expected and some may have blown your mind. Are some of these cricketers really worth that amount? If not, why did the teams blow their purses on some cricketers. who are not even in their national teams currently?

IPL is more than just an average cricket league in India. The massive fan following makes it a cash cow for investors. Cricketing skill is just one of the many factors that generates the demand for the player. Off the field, these cricketers have to be marketable, popular among the fan base, advertise sponsors, attend fan events. The list just goes on & on. The demands from a cricketer don’t end on the cricket field.

Popularity of the cricketer is understated in such cricket leagues. The fans connect to players that they think represent them the best. You’ll never see RCB release Kohli, MI release Rohit or CSK release Dhoni / Raina. Apart from being the best at their sport, they are the biggest crowd pullers for their respective clubs. One of the reasons someone like Mushfiqur Rahim has never had takers in 8 seasons of IPL auctions is the fan sentiment in India. The clubs fear losing out on fans by onboarding a cricketer who is negatively popular in the country.

Now that we know what it takes to attract a bid from the teams, let’s discuss how far the clubs can go to acquire their services. Auction dynamics is an interesting subject to study since there’s no pattern to it. As it’s name suggests, it’s dynamic. The flow of tide decides how high the wave can go. Right time, right place and you could be riding a high wave just like Krishnappa Gowtham or Riley Meredith!

Demand vs Supply

Most mini auctions tend to throw up numbers that many people find unreasonable. Often at such auctions, teams have big purses but not enough resources. Let’s go with the 2021 mini auction and talk about fast bowlers. Every team comes with some targets in mind from the list of registered players for the auction. It was very evident from the outset that atleast 5 clubs were in need of overseas fast bowlers. We saw bidding wars for the best of the lot and the money on offer was insane. Chris Morris, Kyle Jamieson, Jhye Richardson made a fortune since they were at the right place, right time.

RCB picked NZ all rounder Kyle Jamieson for INR 15 Cr.
Photo courtesy: Caught At Point

Let’s discuss Kyle Jamieson’s bid in detail here. INR 15 Cr for a fast bowler who has never played in India. Some jaws were sure to be dropped. But what went in his favor? The world took notice of Jamieson after his stellar debut series at home vs India. With white ball, red ball and the bat in hand, Jamieson put up some fine performances to put himself on IPL teams’ radars. He was the flavor of the season. What also helped his case is that he came late in the auction. By the time Jamieson’s name came up, both Chris Morris and Jhye Richardson had already been sold to big-purse bullies RR and PBKS respectively. Other teams that were looking for an overseas fast bowling all rounder had to go for Jamieson since he was the best of the lot remaining. Multiple teams had the money but no alternatives. It was imperative that they push their limits on specific targets for specific roles.

Team Representation

Teams always love to have characters that align with their brand. In this regard, we cannot have a better pairing than RCB and Glenn Maxwell. As Mr. Anand Kripali said, “Glenn Maxwell is the flag bearer of ‘Play Bold’ brand of cricket that RCB endorses”. So it was no surprise that RCB, who were looking for a power hitter behind AB de Villiers, would go all out for Glenn Maxwell. RCB are no strangers to splurging cash at auctions but somehow this splurge made more sense than most of their splurges in the past.

This however worked well for Moeen Ali, the next best alternative to Glenn Maxwell. Since CSK couldn’t outbid RCB for Maxwell, they had to go all out for the next best available option and got Moeen Ali for INR 7 Cr. Now, would Moeen have got a 7 Cr bid if his name popped up before Maxwell? Hard to tell but very unlikely. If teams knew Maxwell was still an option to come, not many teams would’ve splurged 7 Cr on Moeen. They would’ve waited for Maxwell with bigger purses trying to outbid other interests. This is the fun of auctions, the unpredictability!

Price Tag & Comparisons

Kagiso Rabada: INR 4.20 Cr, SA pace spearhead.

Chris Morris: INR 16.25 Cr but doesn’t even play for SA national team anymore.

The obvious question: does that mean Chris Morris is 4 times better than Kagiso Rabada?

Chris Morris attracted the highest ever bid made at IPL auction history.
Picture source: IANS / TOI

Definitely not. It’s again a case of high demand and less supply as we often see at the mini auctions. Plenty of teams had money, specific slots to fill and there were limited resources of quality. Would Morris fetch 16.25 Cr at a mega auction? Highly unlikely again.

So if you thought some teams were crazy at this year’s auction, you may want to understand the auction dynamics better!

Author: Pavan Kulkarni

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