500 stars to go under hammer for IPL 4

Even as a diplomatic row continues to brew over the recent IPL auction, another auction – which will be a far bigger affair – is just a few months away. With the BCCI committed to adding two new teams to the league and all current IPL players having served out their contracted period, the next auction, in July, promises to be the biggest trade fair in international cricket, with over 500 players expected to go under the hammer.

According to a reliable IPL source, the existing eight franchises will be allowed to retain up to six players – four Indian and two foreigners – from their existing squad provided both parties agree to a mutual deal. However, it is not obligatory on the part of the franchises or the players to hang on each other if they are not comfortable with the idea. Barring a handful of players who choose to stay on, all others, as well as new ones itching to join the IPL bandwagon will be treated as free players and will have to go through the auction in order to find berths in 10 teams which will compete for honours next season. The two new teams will have to recruit afresh.

The IPL plans to limit the number of matches played by a player to a maximum of 14 in order to manage the extra workload. It also plans to raise the cap on foreign players to at least 12 players per team, but the restriction on foreign players in the playing XI will remain. According to the IPL source, the BCCI is dead against allowing more than four foreigners in the playing XI to protect the interests of the Indian players.

The logic behind raising the overall cap on foreigners to 12 is the increased matches due to the new teams.

With 10 teams now in the fray, vying with one another on a home and away basis, the total number of matches will also jump from 60 to 94.

With each team required to play at least 18 matches, the IPL plans to limit the number of matches played by a player to a maximum of 14 in order to manage the extra workload. This means every franchise will be obliged to rotate not only their players but also the captaincy in order to make the optimum use of the available resources.

The IPL, on the other hand, plans to cope with this problem of plenty by scheduling matches in the morning session, especially on weekends and holidays. In IPL 1 & 2 matches had been slotted only in the evenings, with the early match scheduled at 4 pm and the late match from 8 pm. The final schedule, of course, will have to be worked out in consultation with IPL’s telecast partners.

The IPL also plans to do away with the icon tag for star players which means that even the big guns like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh will figure in the auction list unless their current employers choose to retain them.

However, one thing is for sure. Unlike in the first IPL auction where reputation mattered more than pedigree of the players, the July auction will see current form getting more weightage. So players doing well in IPL-3 and the ICC World T20 in the West Indies will be the hot picks and not old lions who are long in the tooth.

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