MS Dhoni’s top billing was hardly surprising, but the figure at which he was sold — Rs 6 crore — certainly caused some murmurs. On a frenzied, dramatic day of cricket’s first-ever auction, something Shah Rukh Khan called “addictive”, the cash registers just kept ringing for the players.
Even computer glitches at the start could not prevent this from becoming, what Vijay Mallya dubbed, “the best thing to have happened to Indian cricket”.
Andrew Symonds, subjected to monkey chants on his last tour to India, and involved in a protracted episode over allegations that Harbhajan Singh racially abused him, found that India’s IPL franchisees had no problems whatsoever with him. Hyderabad doled out $1.35 million (Rs 5.4 crore) to buy him. And Sanath Jayasuriya, dismissed by many as over-the-hill at 38, rang in at third place with Mumbai’s Reliance Industries giving $975,000 (Rs 3.9 crore) for him.
While the quantum of some of these numbers might startle you, the real surprise came in not how costly some players were, but how others turned out to be a steal at the end of the day.
There were 10 players who remained unsold through the eight regular rounds of auctioning, of who, two, Loots Bosman and Michael Hussey, went for higher than their base price in the re-auction. Mohammad Yousuf (for legal reasons) and Ashwell Prince (for a lack of demand) were withdrawn.
The IPL announced that the remaining six, Glenn McGrath, Simon Katich, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Justin Langer and Tatenda Taibu were sold for their reserve prices, in a final round of re-auctioning.
However, the Hindustan Times has learnt that these players went at bargain prices, with franchisees having to pay well below their reserve prices for them. The players, who were promised minimum guarantees, will be paid the difference by the IPL.
McGrath, who started at a reserve price of $350,000 (Rs 1.4 crore) went to Delhi for $225,000 (90 lakh). Chanderpaul, who started at Rs 80 lakh, cost Bangalore just Rs 32 lakh while Mohali got itself two steals: Katich at Rs 30 lakh and Sarwan at Rs 28 lakh (original prices Rs 80 and Rs 90 lakh respectively).
On a day when the biggest celebrations were saved for those who walked away with the big names they wanted, there were some others who were quietly laughing all the way to the bank.