IPL mega auctions: Taking away more than giving

Updated on Jun 05, 2022 07:00 PM IST

BCCI will discuss with its new media rights partners but many franchises feel the mega auctions disrupt their squad makeup every four years

The IPL auction is like the NFL draft - a mega TV property, although unlike drafts it’s not an open event attracting massive crowds(IPL) PREMIUM
The IPL auction is like the NFL draft - a mega TV property, although unlike drafts it’s not an open event attracting massive crowds(IPL)

Is it time IPL bid goodbye to mega auctions? It’s a question that comes up the season after every mega auction and is debated before the collective opinion leans towards holding on to something that’s given the league a distinct identity.

The IPL auction is like the NFL draft - a mega TV property, although unlike drafts it’s not an open event attracting massive crowds. The two-day mega auction in Bengaluru in February saw 204 players sold and over 550 crore splurged by the 10 franchises. A record 50 million TV viewers tuned in as per data sourced from India’s TV ratings body BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council), with time spent by the viewers going up to 3.6 billion minutes from 2.5 billion minutes in the previous mega auction in 2018.


A BCCI official was non-committal when asked about another mega auction in four years. But consensus is growing among franchises that it may be time to move on now that the next IPL expansion is not expected in the immediate future. BCCI may not be averse to the idea with the two new teams, Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants, having built robust squads.

It’s a discussion the Indian board will have with their new media rights partners after next week’s e-auction. One IPL insider says they have already had discussions over the after-effects of the mega auction—drastic squad overhauls. It is believed the resulting fan disconnect may have contributed to poor TV viewership in IPL this year. BARC, BCCI and broadcasters Disney Star are yet to share viewership numbers but speaking to a number of stakeholders, the drop is known to be around 30% from last year.

There may be other reasons too. Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK), by all accounts the two most popular and successful franchises in the league, finished last two on the points table.

After losing five key players in the Pandya brothers Hardik and Krunal, Trent Boult, Quinton de Kock and Rahul Chahar, five-time champions MI couldn’t find quality replacements in the mega auction and that reflected in their poor finish. Delhi Capitals who were shaping up as a formidable force in the previous two seasons lost that edge after losing many crucial players in the auction. That’s the immediate impact.


Franchises are equally concerned about losing younger players who they have spotted and groomed. “It’s just not fair that you build a team, give them a chance, and groom them through a set up. They play for your franchise, and country and you lose them after three years. I think IPL needs to relook at it,” Parth Jindal, co-owner, Delhi Capitals had said after the retentions where they could retain only four players.

Rajasthan Royals lead owner Manoj Badale also speaks about the franchise development model taking a hit. “We’d love for younger players who have been developed at a franchise over many years to be able to be more flexibly retained because that would incentivise franchises to invest more in their academies and grassroots as we currently do at the Royals,” he said. “With regards to the overall squad, I’ll leave that structuring to BCCI and the IPL Governing Council who I'm sure will be reviewing this as they do every cycle.”

Badale is, in principle, for the annual auction (mini auction where franchises release select players). “The auctions have kept IPL really competitive over the years. It has meant that no team can actually dominate year-on-year and hence there are many positives around it. It continues to offer a fair process for bringing in new talent into the league,” he said.

Some like Kolkata Knight Riders’ CEO Venky Mysore want to move away from the auctions altogether and shift to player drafts. “The auction has had its time and place and relevance. There are others who think that way too,” he told former Australia cricketer Brad Hogg on his YouTube channel. “There shouldn't be this type of forced auction where you put everyone back. Trade, loans, and drafts should be allowed.”

While Indian cricket deliberates on staging the mega auction next time, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Rameez Raja, taken in by IPL’s success, recently expressed interest in the Pakistan Super League switching from drafts to auction to attract more foreign talent.

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    Rasesh Mandani loves a straight drive. He has been covering cricket, the governance and business side of sport for close to two decades. He writes and video blogs for HT.

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