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IPL 2018: Why Rajasthan Royals hired Ben Stokes for Rs. 12.5 crore

Rajasthan Royals co-owner Manoj Badale says it’s disappointing to get negative publicity after Indian Premier League (IPL) betting and fixing allegations against its players and a co-owner and adds that even if Ben Stokes is unavailable, it’s not a bad investment.

cricket Updated: Feb 02, 2018 08:54 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Indian Premier League,IPL 2018,IPL
Rajasthan Royals are making a comeback into Indian Premier League (IPL) and has spent big in this year’s auction including Rs. 12.5 crore on Ben Stokes. (Getty Images)

In the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) decade-long existence, Rajasthan Royals have become symbolic of the best and worst sides in the cash-rich T20 tournament.

From winning the inaugural 2008 season with a team full of young and lesser-known players to getting suspended following fixing and betting allegations against its players and a co-owner, Rajasthan Royals have seen it all.

The franchise is making a comeback and has spent big in this year’s auction. Manoj Badale, majority stakeholder and chairman of the Royals, accepts the negative publicity of fixing and betting has hurt them.

“It is sad that two separate incidents, which were two years apart, one of spot fixing by three players, and one of alleged betting by a minority shareholder get conflated to create a more negative perception than the reality merits. That said, we can only expect to be judged by our actions and we will continue to run the franchise as we have done since 2008, with utmost professionalism,” Badale said. “It was frustrating to miss a tournament, which has so much excitement!”

Three ex-Royals players – S Sreesanth, Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila – were arrested in 2013 on spot-fixing charges. Also, former minority stakeholder Raj Kundra admitted to placing bets in his team’s matches. The Royals missed the 2015 and 2016 editions following the allegations.

This time despite two of the most expensive buys in the auction --- Ben Stokes (R12.5 crore) and Jaydev Unadkat (R11.5 crore), the management is unsure of getting the services of the former. The England player is due for a trial on February 13 over a brawl incident.

Stokes’ availability

Badale says the Royals have invested heavily in Stokes keeping his potential to be a towering figure in the dressing room.

“We have not just bought Ben Stokes for this season but for the future development of the franchise. We were fully aware of his trial, but we cannot worry about the outcome of things that we can’t control,” he said.

“We are excited by both players (Stokes and Unadkat) joining the Royals. Both bring unique skills, and also create a unique balance. The fact that they were costly simply confirms that other teams see their value as well.”

Greater spending

This year’s auction saw the teams eager to loosen their purse strings, with young players like Sanju Samson (R8 crore - Rajasthan Royals), Ishan Kishan (R6.2 crore – Mumbai Indians) bagging great deals. Badale feels the trend will increase in the coming years as most now have scouts in domestic tournaments.

“Historically, you were able to spend less as you could get information and analysis advantage. Now, most franchises do the same research, watch the same domestic and international tournaments and employ scouts. Hence, you need to look for a competitive edge in other aspects of your strategies,” he said.

“When planning for an auction, you don’t make plans to go big, you make plans to target certain players. The price is ultimately determined by the interest shown in the room --- which is why you need flexibility in your plans. We had more players to target as we were more limited by the retention rules than other franchises.”

First Published: Feb 01, 2018 23:53 IST