'The big IPL auction has outlived its usefulness' - KKR and Capitals heads want change

The big IPL auction has “outlived its usefulness”. That’s the view of Kolkata Knight Riders’ chief executive officer Venky Mysore and Delhi Capitals co-owner Parth Jindal.

The strong statements from the heads of two of the eight existing T20 franchises came on Tuesday, after the teams finalised their player retentions ahead of the 2022 mega auction. While Mysore felt the big auction was no more the “level-playing field” it once was, when it was first held in 2011, Jindal said it was “heart-breaking” to invest time and money into so many players only to lose them three years on.

“There is a tipping point that’s coming for the league where you have to question whether a big auction is really something that needs to be part of this whole process,” Mysore told ESPNcricinfo while discussing Knight Riders’ retentions on Tuesday. “Or you can do drafts for new players coming in, you can do trades, you can do loans and allow teams to build something for the long haul.”

Both franchises retained four players each, but they had to release others who had been part of their core group for the past few years. For example, Knight Riders parted ways with Shubman Gill, Lockie Ferguson, Rahul Tripathi and Nitish Rana, among others, while Capitals let go of Shikhar Dhawan, Kagiso Rabada, R Ashwin and many more.

While Shreyas Iyer had opted to leave the Capitals and go back into the auction, Jindal felt the situation could been avoided. “It was heart-breaking to lose Shreyas Iyer, Shikhar Dhawan, a Kagiso Rabada, an Ashwin,” Jindal said while speaking to host broadcaster Star Sports on Tuesday. “It’s just that this auction process is built like this and I think going forward the IPL really needs to look at it because it’s not really fair that you build up a team, you give youngsters a chance, you groom them through your set-up and they get opportunities, they play for your franchise, then they go and play for the county or their respective countries, and then you lose them after three years.”

Several of the IPL franchises now own academies and have an in-house scouting system that taps talent from the lower rungs with the aim to groom them for the team.

“Directionally at this stage, if you ask me, since the league has completed 14 years, the big auction has outlived its usefulness,” Mysore said. “And you have to reward franchises investing in scouting and academies, in growth. We have done that with KKR Academy and we have our scouting structure, both domestic (and) international. Someone sent me a note the other day that from 2018, we have had six uncapped players who have gone to play for India. You feel very happy that that we are making some contribution in that regard as well.

“Our consistent recommendation is put everybody back into the auction and if you are allowing existing teams to pick four people, give each of them four right-to-match cards and give three to the two new teams” Venky Mysore

“More importantly, from a franchise standpoint, there’s return on the kind of investment that you make and you feel good about that. There was a time when the big auction really was important to create that level-playing field, but even then we were sort of feeling like if you are going to give a franchise the opportunity to pick some players back, it should be through right-to-match cards rather than pre-auction retention.”

When the IPL started in 2008, the plan involved all players going back to the auction. However, before the 2011 mega auction, when two new teams – Pune Warriors India and Kochi Tuskers Kerala – were added to the league, the IPL decided the eight original teams could retain four players each. Before the second mega auction, in 2014, Mysore had suggested the right-to-match method so teams could retain their core. It was accepted and the teams were allowed to retain four players and match two players. In the 2018 mega auction, the eight existing teams were allowed two right-to-matches, again along with three retentions.

This time, the IPL removed the right-to-match option. And with the two new teams – Lucknow and Ahmedabad – allowed to pick three players each from the non-retained pool, both big-name and uncapped players have opted not to be retained.

“My sense is this challenge will always occur as long as you have this pre-auction retention rule there,” Mysore said. “Our recommendation has always been to say – please allow the marketplace to determine the price and allow teams to pick the numbers of people at the auction.

“So our consistent recommendation is put everybody back into the auction and if you are allowing existing teams to pick four people, give each of them four right-to-match cards and give three to the two new teams. So there is no confusion.”

One downside to the right-to-match method is that rival teams can always drive up the price of a player you want just to cut your auction purse. Pre-auction retention was designed to stop that but Mysore isn’t convinced.

“You can’t blame anyone either because there’s always that argument – why pre-auction retention? Then someone says, ‘oh, you know, if you go only to the auction and have only right-to-match cards, other teams know who the franchise is going to retain, they are going to run up the price’.

“I think the league has reached a level of maturity and all the people at the table, they also understand how this works. And they’ve been burnt also – if you try to use that strategy, just to drive somebody’s price up so that they will have lesser money for the next lot of players, that can come back to haunt you if you really don’t want that player. If you want that player then that’s a different story.”

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