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New IPL Rules set to favor bigger teams

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Indian Premier League franchises will be able to retain upto a maximum of five players ahead of the IPL Auctions to be held on the 12th of February 2014, said the 2014 Player Regulations that were released to the media on Tuesday.

In what is clearly seen to be a move done to stroke the egos of the financial big wigs owning IPL franchises, the actual amount spent to retain each player will not be mentioned on the books. Instead the designated amounts of retaining individual players, that add upto Rs. 390 million if all five players are retained, will be the amount deducted from the franchises' spending cap of Rs. 600 million. So in this way, a given franchise can spend a lot of money in retaining one of its marquee players, but will still enter the auctions with a set purse, proving the futility of something like the salary cap.

 

Another innovation that the IPL brings forward this year is the ‘Right to Match’ cards that will be available to franchises during the auction, in limited numbers. This card basically allows a franchise to buy back their own player by matching the bid he attracts in the open auctions. So if Gautam Gambhir is released by Kolkata Knight Riders and say attracts a highest bid of Rs. 75 million from Delhi in the open auctions – Kolkata can use its ‘Right to Match’ card and buy Gambhir with the exact bid as Delhi’s. This will eventually allow greater number of core players to be retained by each team, skewing the fairness of the auction being played on a so called ‘level playing field’. A franchise that retains 3 to 5 players before the auction will get one ‘Right to Match’ card. While franchises that retain upto two players and retain no player will have to play with two and three ‘Right to Match’ cards, respectively.

A leading cricketing website reported that certain franchise officials feel that star attractions in each team might insist on being released by their respective franchises in order to earn a higher bid in the auctions and then be retained through the ‘Right to Match’ card. Since the player retention before the auctions is a two-way agreement process between the player and his team, the scope of arm twisting by certain superstars might make things unviable for the franchise that has lesser resources than the others.

The other developments that the announcement carried included the availability of all non-capped Indians in the auction pool. Unlike in the past, where domestic players from India could be bought outside the auction with a maximum of Rs. 3 million, free forces of demand and supply will now apply and determine a suitable price for the player in question. This not only reduces the chance of payments in kind being made to lure young performers but also allows the “utility” uncapped players to earn higher than their counterparts who might’ve got an odd game for India in the past.

It is yet to be seen how things pan out, leading up to the retention deadline that ends on 10th January 2014. There are sure to be some noises regarding the rules being bent to suit the needs of the powers that fuel Indian cricket and happen to own an IPL team.

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