Cricket

Joy constrained: Breaking down the IPL auction

The value of New Zealand's cricketers trended downwards at the lucrative Indian Premier League over the weekend. Steve Deane reports.

It has a reputation for conveying life-changing sums of money with the thwack of a gavel, but the Indian Premier League player auction didn’t exactly shower Kiwi cricketers with cash over the weekend.

There will have been some joy in the Black Caps camp as a handful of players pocketed tidy (rather than spectacular) sums, but it will have been constrained by the painful snubbing handed to some of this country’s best prospects.

The passing in without a bid of players such as Ish Sodhi (the No. 1 ranked bowler in the international T20 game), Martin Guptill (the second-highest all-time run scorer in international T20) and veteran slugger Ross Taylor – to name just three of the 17 Kiwi hopefuls who missed out – was made even more eyebrow-raising by the penchant of team owners to throw the money at largely unknown Afghan players, including an inexperienced teenager.

Kiwi cricket fans will have found it hard to digest the Kings Xi Punjab shelling out $855,000 for Mujeeb Zadran, a 16-year-old Afghan spinner with just three one day international matches against Ireland under his belt.

As fate had it, Zadran came up in the auction shortly after the Delhi Daredevils paid significantly less ($470,000) for Trent Boult – a seasoned international left arm swing bowler in something approaching career-best form.

A bidding war for Zadran sent his price soaring quickly past Boult, then Kane Williamson ($641,000, Sunrisers Hydrabad) and, ultimately, the highest-priced Kiwi, Brendon McCullum ($770,000, Royal Challengers Bangalore).

Zadran’s previous claims to fame were being the first player born this century to play an ODI, and being too good for the New Zealand U-19 team.

Fresh from doing not all that much for the Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash, McCullum is now looking forward to playing alongside Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers at the Daniel Vettori-coached Royal Challengers.

With Tim Southee ($214,000) and Colin de Grandhomme ($470,000) also in the ranks, Bangalore has a strong Kiwi connection.

Kohli and de Villiers were both retained by Challengers, the former for 17 crore rupees ($NZ3.63 million), making him the most expensive player in the tournament’s 10-year history.

For Kiwi cricketers, the numbers trended downwards in 2018. Colin Munro – the top-ranked batsman in the international ranks – pocketed a tidy $406,000 from the Delhi Daredevils, while Mitchell Santner plays for the first time after snaring a bargain basement $107,000 contract with the Chennai Superkings.

Santner’s late pick-up lifted the total number of Kiwis signed to seven – down from 11 in 2017.

Those that were selected largely took pay cuts. McCullum’s contract was less than half of what he earned at his peak in 2015 ($1.65 million) while Boult, who earned just over $1 million in 2017, also took a hefty chop of more than 50 per cent.

The surprising omissions included Mitchell McClenaghan, a T20 specialist who snared 19 wickets in the 2017 competition for the Mumbai Indians (the fourth highest tally in the competition).

Guptill’s fate was particularly brutal. The hard-hitting opener was put up for auction three times but failed to attract a bid on each occasion. Guptill’s prospects appeared to be linked to those of Chris Gayle, the West Indian master blaster who was eventually thrown an IPL lifeline when taken at his base price of 2 crore by Kings XI Punjab after being passed-in twice.

Guptill’s prospects aren’t helped by the perception he has a weakness against spin bowling. As fate would have it, he was in the process of adding to that unwanted reputation by struggling mightily against Pakistani leg spinner Shadab Khan in Mt Maunganui as the auction played out. Sodhi, too, didn’t exactly enhance his case with an middling display of 2-47 from four overs as the Black Caps were thoroughly outplayed to lose the series and their number one T20 world ranking.

Back at the Ritz-Carlton in Bangalore, the bizarre happenings and hard luck stories weren’t confined to New Zealanders. Ben Stokes, the English all-rounder who missed the Ashes and is facing criminal charges for his role in a drunken street fight, attracted the top bid of $2.67million from the Rajasthan Royals.

His England team mates Joe Root, Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales were all overlooked, as was South African star fast bowler Dale Steyn.

Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, meanwhile, was valued at $NZ2.14 million.

IPL AUCTION 2018

Top earners

Ben Stokes: 12.5 crore rupees (NZ$2.67 million) to Rajasthan Royals.

Jaydev Unadkat 11.5 crore (NZ$2.45 million) to Rajasthan Royals.

KL Rahul 11 crore ($2.35 million) to Kings XI Punjab.

Manish Pandey 11 crore ($2.35 million) to Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Chris Lynn 9.6 crore ($2.05 million) to Kolkata Knight Riders.

NEW ZEALANDERS:

Brendon McCullum SOLD for 3.6 crore ($770,000) to Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Kane Williamson SOLD for 3 crore ($641,000) to Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Trent Boult SOLD for 2.2 crore ($470,000) to Delhi Daredevils.

Colin de Grandhomme SOLD for 2.2 crore ($470,000) to Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Colin Munro SOLD for 1.9 crore ($406,000) to Delhi Daredevils.

Tim Southee SOLD for 1 crore ($214,000) to Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Mitchell Santner SOLD for 0.5 crore ($107,000) to Chennai Super Kings.

UNSOLD: Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Ish Sodhi, Corey Anderson, Tom Latham, Luke Ronchi, Lockie Ferguson, Adam Milne, Matt Henry, Ben Wheeler. Glenn Phillips, Anton Devcich, Ross Taylor, Scott Kuggeleijn, Neil Wagner, Seth Rance, Anurag Verma.

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