On Friday, India became No. 2 in world ODI rankings, on the strength of a nine-match winning streak and a decline in Australia’s dominance.
On the same day, India, the cricketing nation, seemed to laugh at the global meltdown at an auction where crores were spent buying the services of 17 overseas players.
Former England skippers Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen went for about Rs 7.5 crore apiece ($1.55 million), making them jointly the highest valued players in the Indian Premier League (IPL), more than M.S. Dhoni, bought for Rs six crore last year.
Bangladesh’s paceman Mashrafe Mortaza would not know how to react to the Rs 2.93 crore the Kolkata Knight Riders have paid for his “commercial value”. After all, he was valued at a relatively low Rs 24.4 lakh. And then there was South African J.P. Duminy who sold for Rs 4.64 crore.
Whatever happened to the recession? Quipped actor Preity Zinta, co-owner of Kings XI Punjab: “Recession or no recession, cricket and entertainment always sell. And the IPL is about both.”
Said I.S. Bindra, member of IPL’s governing council: “We made about $7 million in fees for 17 players. The auction saw some of the highest bids. We’re going to see a 25 per cent hike in sponsorships. It does seem the IPl is recession-free.”
But the numbers are not all that rosy. Of the around Rs 66 crore available to spend, teams spent about 32. Many believed they would be better off saving. The Deccan Chargers, for instance, could have spent Rs 9 crore ($1.9 mn). They spent just Rs 1.22 crore ($ 0.25 mn).
“It’s not going to be that easy, recouping the money,” a team owner told HT. “We did think we’d be projecting losses for the first three years but that didn’t take the slowdown into account. Now, we’ll pray.”