Is it time for IPL to say goodbye to mega auctions? It’s a question that comes up the season after every mega auction and is debated before collective opinion sways to cling to something that gives the league a distinct identity.
The IPL auction is like the NFL Draft – a televised mega property, though unlike drafts, it’s not an open event drawing massive crowds. The two-day mega auction in Bengaluru in February saw 204 players sold and more ₹550 crore splurges by the 10 franchises. A record 50 million viewers tuned according to data from Indian television ratings body BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council), with viewer time spent up to 3.6 billion minutes compared to 2.5 billion minutes at the previous mega auction in 2018.
A BCCI official was evasive when asked about another mega auction in four years. But consensus is growing among franchises that maybe it’s time to move on now that IPL’s next expansion isn’t expected in the immediate future. BCCI may not be opposed to the idea with the two new teams, Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants, having built robust squads.
It’s a discussion the Indian board will have with its new media rights partners after next week’s online auction. An IPL insider says they have already had discussions about the aftermath of the mega auction – drastic revisions to the team. It is believed that the resulting disconnection of fans may have contributed to the low television audience at IPL this year. BARC, BCCI and Disney Star broadcasters were unwilling to share viewing figures, but speaking to a number of stakeholders the decline is known to be around 30% from last year. .
There may also be other reasons. Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK), both considered the most popular and successful franchises in the league, finished bottom two in the points standings.
After losing five key players in brothers Pandya Hardik and Krunal, Trent Boult, Quinton de Kock and Rahul Chahar, the five-time MI champions couldn’t find quality replacements in the mega auction and that was reflected in their poor finish. The Delhi Capitals, who were looming as a formidable force in the previous two seasons, lost that advantage after losing many crucial players in the auction. This is the immediate impact.
PLAYER DEVELOPMENT HIT
Franchises are also concerned about the loss of young players they have scouted and cared for. “It’s just not fair that you build a team, give them a chance and groom them through a setup. They play for your franchise and your country and you lose them after three years. I think IPL needs to rethink that,” Delhi Capitals co-owner Parth Jindal had said after the retentions where they could only retain four players.
Rajasthan Royals main owner Manoj Badale also talks about the franchise’s development model which has taken a hit. “We would like young players who have been developed in a franchise over many years to be able to be retained in a more flexible way, as this would encourage franchises to invest more in their academies and their grassroots football, as we currently do in the Royals,” he said. . “As far as the team as a whole goes, I will leave that structuring to BCCI and the IPL Board who I’m sure will review this as they do every cycle.”
Badale is, in principle, for the annual auction (mini auction where franchises release selected players). “Auctions have kept IPL very competitive over the years. This means that no team can really dominate from one year to the next and so there are many positives around this. It continues to provide a fair process to attract new talent to the league,” he said.
Some, like Kolkata Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore, want to move away from auctions altogether and into player drafts. “The auction had its time, place and relevance. There are others who think that way too,” he told former Australian cricketer Brad Hogg on his YouTube channel. “There shouldn’t be this type of forced auction where you send everyone away. Trading, loans and drafts should be permitted.
As Indian cricket plans to hold the mega auction next time, Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Rameez Raja, wowed by IPL’s success, has recently expressed interest in Pakistan Super League passing drafts auction to attract more foreign talent.