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    January 10, 2011

    Where is the IPL heading?

    While I had fervently hoped last year that the number of games would come down so that the tournament could be finished soon, that was a pipe dream considering there's so much money riding on TV rights, etc.

    However, I reckoned then that the likes of Hayden, Gilchrist, Kumble, Ganguly, Warne and Murali would not play in IPL 2011. Of the 6, only Warne, Gilchrist and Murali will play. Hayden and Kumble have retired while Ganguly's failure to get anyone to sign him up means that his playing career has effectively ended. Unless, as he exhibited often over the last 20 years, he wriggles out of the situation and surprises everyone.

    The main theme at the inaugural IPL auction in 2008 was to get big name players from the same city, state or region that the franchisee had bought the rights for. This was evident when Bangalore went for Anil Kumble & Rahul Dravid, Hyderabad went for VVS Laxman, and to a lesser extent, Kolkata secured Sourav Ganguly's services.

    All these players were in their (or nearing) mid-30s and were already at (or close to) the end of their ODI careers.

    This year's auction seemed to indicate that franchisees were less interested in creating a fan-base built on the basis of picking in-region players. That's probably why Delhi didn't go for Gambhir, Nehra & Ishant, Bangalore for Dravid & Uthappa and Hyderabad for Laxman.

    Are the teams then focussing on building up a team (& fan base?) that will stick around for 3 years together through thick & thin, headed by a few wise heads and driven by impact players?

    It's tough to say that, considering Dravid turns 38 tomorrow (happy birthday!), Laxman is 36, Warne is 41, Murali is nearly 39, Gilchrist is 39 and the Duracell/Energizer bunny Tendulkar is nearly 38. How many of these players would even play IPL 2012? Is a year sufficient to create a solid team structure? I'm not sure.

    Kochi (Laxman & Murali) and Jaipur (Warne & Dravid) have taken a huge risk. They must hope that the professionalism of these greats rubs off on the younger bunch.

    So, is the IPL then moving away from [what seemed to me] a key aspect of its creation, that of a sustainable long-term & loyal fan base for each team, to just creating groups that played together (& were followed) for at most 3 years, only to disband at the next option?

    You could argue about it both ways - the number of teams will most likely keep increasing (e.g. Ahmedabad or Baroda, Kanpur, Gwalior or Indore, etc.). Hence, it is only fair that all players are put up for re-auction without any retentions. On the flip side, franchisees & advertisers have spent a fair amount of money in associating a star player to their brand name. It would seem ridiculous for the same player to turn up under a different banner a year later.

    Then again, that's not too uncommon anyway, for brand association contracts seem to only be 1 year long ones.

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 11:57 PM |
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