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IPL: The great Wednesday Bazaar

A total of 89 players will go under the hammer on Wednesday when 8 franchises bid to get their hands from the contracted pool of players, reports Anand Vasu.
By Anand Vasu | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 17, 2008 02:24 AM IST

A total of 89 players will go under the hammer on Wednesday when eight franchises bid to get their hands on the cream of the talent from the contracted pool of players in the Indian Premier League.

While senior officials of the IPL refused to reveal details of how the auction would be conducted, the Hindustan Times has learnt that an open bid process is being adopted.

Earlier, it was proposed that the auction be held in a closed bid, but the franchises were not in favour of this.

“Basically, each of the players will come up for auction one by one, with the eight franchises bidding directly against each other,” a source revealed. “The way it has been structured, the first players to come up for grabs will be a group we have identified as the marquee players.”

Although the source could not reveal exactly how many players fit into this top bracket — remember that four of the biggest names, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh are not available for auction being designated icon players in cities that have IPL teams – players like Ricky Ponting, Chris Gayle and Mahendra Singh Dhoni are expected to be high on the list. Dhoni, originally named an icon player, is now free to be auctioned off since no franchise is based in his home state of Jharkhand.

The franchises who won Hyderabad and Delhi have already submitted a request to the governing council of the IPL asking that VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag be included in the list of icon players but a decision had not yet been reached on the matter.

Once the marquee players are sold off, the auction will then move category wise, split up into bowlers, batsmen, wicketkeepers and so forth.

While the IPL has not officially announced which of its 89 players fit into the marquee category, it is understood that a gradation system has been developed internally wherein players will be split into categories A to F depending on their cricketing skills and achievements. Then the names of all players from one category will be placed in a bowl, and chits drawn at random.

It promises to be day of big spending, with each franchisee having to shell out a minimum of US$3.3 million and a maximum of US$ 5 million for the players it will get in its roster from the auction.

At this stage, however, there is no option of trading players between teams. Once a team has secured the services of a player he will not have the option of moving for at least a year. At the end of the first year, a player can be sold to another team, and the IPL will have no involvement in this. “It’s a complete free market situation,” an official revealed. “The IPL will not be involved in any way, will not receive a percentage fee or any such thing, and there will be direct dealing between the seller and buyer.”

Richard Madley, a leading auctioneer from the UK and a director of Dreweatts, the UK’s largest regional auction house, will conduct the auction.

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