Money is not directly proportional to talent - Takeaways of this IPL Auction
This is Economics! The demand, the supply, the capital, all plays a part, isn’t it! If we see it that way, then everything will make sense.
Written by : PRADEEP M.KRISHNA
The Gavel is banged for one last time this year, and all the excitement of ‘Who buys who’ is over. The auction for the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League wasn’t as shocking as the previous ones without many surprise buys and shocking omissions. The only talking point of this auction is the hefty sum franchises have paid for certain players. The Super Kings fans are crying to see their beloved team picking up the 30-year-old Piyush Chawla for INR 6.75 crores. Some feel that the amount Pat Cummins and Chris Morris received were crazy. On the other side of the spectrum, many think that buying Tom Banton at INR 1 crore is steel. But, are these numbers represent the exact value of the players? Definitely not! This is not a simple ‘money is proportional to the talent’ theory. This is Economics! The demand, the supply, the capital, all plays a part, isn’t it! If we see it that way, then everything will make sense.
Instead of starting with Cummins or Chawla or Morris, let’s begin this discussion with Stoinis’ case. After 123 players’ names went under the hammer at the end of the 14th set, the auction for previously unsold players begun. In this re-auction, there was hardly a battle, with just 2 players went above their base prices. Kings XI and the Capitals bid for the 19-year-old wicketkeeper, who went back to his old franchise for INR 55 lakhs. But, when the name of Stoinis popped out, Capitals once again started fierce bidding, this time against the Royals. From INR 1 crore, they went till INR 4 crores when the Royals pulled out. For a player who was unsold earlier, why should they go till that then? That’s where demand and supply played their part.
Now, the demand part: During an auction break, Parth Jindal, the Capitals’ co-owner said to the broadcasters, “We have to buy someone for the no.6 slot and we have few all-rounders in our mind”. At that time, they have had 7 overseas players in the squad and needed someone to fill the place of Chris Morris. With all their Indian batsmen being top order players and Axar being unable to pile runs consistently, they desperately needed a batsman at number 6. And those top-order players unable to bowl either, the management has to go for someone who could bowl at least 2-3 decent overs. They won’t entertain a spinner either with Ashwin, Axar, and Lamichanne in their ranks. Ultimately, Delhi Capitals required a Kallis kind of player. Meanwhile, in the case of the franchise from the pink city, they had to find a back up for the modern-day Kallis, Ben Stokes.
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What does the supply line provide? Only a minuscule amount of players were present in the auction who could tick both of those two boxes. Maxwell, Coin de Grandhomme and Colin Munro cannot provide the necessary overs whereas the likes of Phelukwayo, Chris Green and Holder won’t give you the batting solidity. Brathwaite might play one marauding inning, the whole season and surely he isn’t a 14 game player. The same applies to Ben Cutting. After all these considerations, we are left with Sam Curran, Chris Morris, James Neesham and Stoinis.
Since Delhi lost Curran to CSK and doesn’t want to bring Morris, it’s either Neesham or Stoinis. When Neesham’s name popped, Capitals already had 4 left-handers in their playing XI in the form of Dhawan, Pant, Hetmeyer, and Axar Patel. So, buying the Kiwi southpaw would be no brainer. It’s all Stonis from there for Capitals. Whereas Royals waited too long to buy the backups and saw everyone picked up and one final like to like replacement for Stokes, left in the auction is the Western Australia all-rounder.
Let’s discuss the resources now. When Stoinis’ name came for the first time, the teams had to buy quite a few players and the purse would always seem to be insufficient. His name was 71st in the auction list and at that time, Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers had already filled their overseas quota, whereas CSK was happy with the acquisition of Sam Curran. RCB, with INR 13.50 crores and 10 vacancies won’t entertain the idea of buying back a flop signing which cost them 6.2 crores in Indian money. Of the remaining teams, Delhi had to fill 7 slots with 17.70 crore rupees in their bank. Kings XI had INR 20.75 crores to fill 4 slots and were in pursuit of a top-quality pacer. KKR with 10.10 crores had 6 voids in the squad. Rajasthan Royals had to buy 4 players with the remaining 17.45 crore rupees. With that many slots to fill, no team would buy a player who was not in their wish-list. But, had any team lifted their paddle for Stoinis, they would have bought them for his base price of INR 1 crore.
During the first round, no one wanted Stoinis as there were plenty of options. But with only 17 players coming down in the re-auction, Royals and Capitals were forced to buy him. The truth is, once again, they don’t want Stoinis. But, they needed an all-rounder, a Kallis type all-rounder. As we discussed above, they were left with the Australian. Now, they need to buy Stoinis. When his name came in the re-auction, Delhi was left with 14 crores (to fill 5 slots) and Rajasthan with 16.75 crores (for 2 slots). This time, 1 crore isn’t huge. Even 10 crores won’t be huge at that time and they could splash money to buy whoever they want. So, both have gone until INR 4 crores, at which point Royals backed.
If Delhi had succeeded in buying Sam Curran, the scenario would’ve been different. In that case, CSK might have raised their paddle for Stoinis in the first attempt to take him at his base price or Royals would’ve done the same in the re-auction without any fight, considering the Super Kings should’ve bought someone. This is how the demand, supply, and resources made an impact on the sale of Stoinis. Those economic entities have increased his value 4 times, without which he would’ve gone for just 1 crore rupees, or might’ve remained unsold!
This is the same case with Chawla. Super Kings are desperate to play Faf, Watson, and Bravo. With just one overseas spot remaining they can either go for Tahir or Ngidi. But, if they want to go with Ngidi, they should field Karn Sharma with whom they have no complete confidence. In that case, they need another leggie. Since this is CSK, we won’t see someone like K.C.Cariappa or Varun Chakravarthy getting chances. They always prefer experience, and the only leggie in the mi with the CSK trait is Piyush. With the way the went for Coulter-Nile even after getting Curran, it was clear that they wanted to play an overseas pacer. And for that, they surely need Chawla at any cost.
Mumbai Indians and Kings XI have had just Rahul Chahar and Murugan Ashwin respectively as their leg-spin options. So, it was no surprise that both these franchises fought for the 30-year-old. Had the likes of Karnal Sharma, Rahul Tewatia were present in the auction, Mumbai or Kings XI would’ve waited and the price of Chawla would’ve been much lesser. Super Kings with Rupees 9.75 crores left and only 2 ‘real’ slots to fill, would’ve seen that as a future investment. With Tahir and Harbhajan in line to retire in a couple of years, and CSK’s policy of playing even the 35+ players, Chawla is surely an investment for the next 5 years, unless he falters.
Here, unlike in the case of Maxwell or Cummins, the value sky racketed not because of who they are, but Because of what they are. A complete all-rounder in Stoinis’ case and the experienced leg spinner in Chawla. But, the value of those players was purely determined by the demand they have had, and the limited supply this small auction have provided. The only reason why I discussed this here is that we shouldn’t rate a player or his talent based on the price the franchises paid.
James Neesham isn’t surely a 50 lakh player. Had Maxwell gone to Delhi, the team wouldn’t have bought Hetmeyer. In this case, they might have had no hesitation to buy a left-handed all-rounder and Neesham would’ve let to a bidding war, who knows! If Keserick Williams name had appeared before that of Oshane Thomas, the in-form Williams might have found himself an IPL contract ahead of the Royals’ pacer. His bad luck, his name appeared in the re-auction after all the 64 overseas slots been filled. This is something beyond economics too right!