At the end of last year's IPL auction Adam Gilchrist said he felt "a bit like a cow," being haggled over and bought. Not many others said so, but some cricketers privately admitted that they were less than enamoured with being treated as commodities. This year, if it wasn't for these very market forces, there would have been no story from the auction. For Mashrafe Mortaza, with all due respect to him, would never command a $ 600,000-price tag if it wasn't for these "auction forces."
If last year's auction was like prima donnas buying anything and everything they fancied at a designer store in a mega mall, this year's affair was more like prudent housewives looking for a bargain at the local market. Teams came to the auction with specific demands, helped along no doubt by the fact that they now had a captain and coach with whom to discuss these things. Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen understandably and predictably, fetched large purses (although outflow from their respective teams will be about 50% given they're only available for three of the six IPL weeks) but there was little byplay between teams barring this.
Rajasthan stuck to their strategy of not running with the herd, picking the relatively unknown Tyron Henderson while Delhi consolidated their position with two cost-effective Englishmen. Chennai, who had targetted Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the first year, kept with the method, going for Flintoff at any cost. What're more, they picked the cheapest player, George Bailey, and some are suggesting he could be the real surprise of the tournament.
When last year's auction was done, teams complained that $ 5 million was too little to play with. This year, they were allowed to spend $ 13.59 million between them, but barely used up 7 million. The Priety Zintas and Juhi Chawlas may not be feeling the effects of the economic slowdown, but those who actually run teams - the accountants and the cricket gurus - are tightening the belt, and have expressed themselves through their chequebooks.