I haven’t been saying much about cricket recently because the performance for the Australian side in The Ashes has been so awful it rather killed the series as a contest. However, today there’s something new to think about.
As I reported last year, in order to screw more money out of the franchises, the IPL has forced them to relinquish all of their players and bid to buy them back. The first round of the auction took place this morning. As I had expected, both the Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab are back in the tournament, which is good news for Shilpa and Preity.
A couple of teams: Chennai and Mumbai, made a determined effort to hang on to the core of their past teams. Chennai have re-signed MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay, Mike Hussey and Albie Morkel. Mumbai have resigned Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga. Delhi has retained Virender Sehwag but lost Gautam Gambhir to Kolkata for the top bid of the day, $2.4 million.
Despite having Shilpa on board, my boys are noted for being short on cash compared to some of the teams from bigger cities. However, I’m pleased to see that we kept our two Aussie stars: Warne and Watson. We lost Graeme Smith to new boys, Pune Warriors, but we picked up Rahul Dravid, Ross Taylor and Paul Collingwood. The Royals also paid big bucks for Johan Botha, a South African offspinner who also captains his country’s T20 side. A few eyebrows were raised at the amount of money we paid, but if Warnie says a spinner is worth having then he has to be good.
There’s more action to come, so it is a bit early to say which sides look the best, but I’ve been quite impressed with Kolkata’s batting line-up. With Gambhir being joined by Yusuf Pathan, Jacques Kallis, Brad Haddin and Eoin Morgan they should whack the ball around a bit, but they seem short on bowling. The new team from Kochi has picked up Muralitharan and has added Sreesanth, RP Singh and Ramesh Powar to back him up. They could be worth watching.