The IPL auction on Tuesday featured 351 players competing for 70 slots in teams. Franchises spent big on teenagers, while keeping the cheque book down for the veterans of the cash-rich league. So while the 16-year-old Prayas Ray Barman went to Royal Challengers Bangalore for Rs 1.5 crore despite his base price being Rs 20 lakh, veteran Yuvraj Singh was lapped up for his base price by Mumbai Indians after some heartstopping moments.
Once someone who was certain to trigger bidding wars, on Tuesday ‘Yuvi’ went unsold in the first round and when he came up again in the rapidfire bidding round, only Mumbai Indians lifted the paddle for him. The amount? Rs 1 crore. A far cry from Rs 14 crore and Rs 16 crore prices he fetched just three years ago. From Rs 14 crore in 2014 to Rs 1 crore this year – Yuvraj’s stock has fallen significantly.
Singh has played 128 matches in the IPL over all editions so far, and scored 2652 runs at an average of 24.79 and strike rate of 129.68. With the ball, he’s accounted for 36 wickets at an economy of 7.44 with an average of 29.92. However, the all-rounder has seen a steady fall in the number of runs he’s scored in each edition of the Indian Premier League and has been playing fewer matches as well.
When Delhi Daredevils splurged Rs 16 crore for Yuvraj in 2015, he had just scored 376 runs from 14 matches in the previous IPL season. He also scored three fifties at an average of 34.18. A year later, he played the same number of matches but scored 248 runs at an average of 19.07. As he moved from team to team, Singh’s form didn’t improve until he joined the Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2017, where he scored 252 runs from 12 matches and was retained for a second season.
But in 2018, he scored just 65 runs from 8 matches at an average of 10.83, which was never going to make the cut. So the Hyderabad team didn’t retain him for IPL 2019.
Even his bowling performance declined over the years with the wickets drying up.
It’s little wonder that Yuvraj (and Ishant Sharma) have now been picked by six different IPL teams – equaling a record set by many including Parthiv Patel. They’re still one team shy of matching Aaron Finch, who has represented seven IPL sides so far. Finch, for the record, has opted out of the upcoming IPL to focus on the World Cup next year.
Another IPL stalwart, New Zealander Brendon McCullum found no takers. As McCullum’s name was called out, former Black Caps and now Kings XI Punjab coach Mike Hesson kept his paddle down and opted not to go for a batsman who was released by RCB ahead of the auction. It was a fall from grace for McCullum, who scored 158 runs in an innings over a decade ago.
In 11 IPL seasons, McCullum played 109 matches and scored 2881 runs, at an average of 27.7 and strike rate of 132. In IPL 2018, he played just six times for the RCB, scoring 127 runs at a strike rate of 144. The writing was on the wall, and given he was no longer a first choice in a star-studded XI, McCullum not being retained was no surprise.
Also in the list of names who struck big a decade ago and went unsold this time was Australian Shaun Marsh. The Orange Cap holder in his first season found no takers. Neither did Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn and Cheteshwar Pujara.
While Indian seamers Jaydev Unadkat (Rs 8.4 crore), Mohit Sharma (Rs 5 crore), Mohammed Shami (Rs 4.8 crore) and Varun Aaron (Rs 2.4 crore) went for high prices, another veteran Ishant Sharma didn’t see much vying for his services. Available at a base price of Rs 1 crore, Ishant was eventually sold to Delhi Capitals for Rs 1.1 crore. And it’s entirely a surprise that the tall, lanky seamer didn’t find teams fighting over him. In his IPL career, Ishant has picked 59 wickets from 76 matches, with a single five wicket haul in nine seasons.
In sharp contrast to these veterans, uncapped and teenage players found backing at the auction. Prayas, has experience of playing in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, and went to RCB after emerging as Bengal’s highest wicket-taker. Besides Prayas, 17-year old Prabh Simran Singh came in at a base price of Rs 20 lakh and went at 24 times the price(Rs 4.80 crore) to Kings XI Punjab. He entered the limelight with a 37-ball 65 in the final of U19 Asia Cup in Dhaka. However, he still has no T20 experience.
In all, 60 players were sold at the auction to the eight franchises, of which 32 are uncapped. Clearly the idea with the T20 format, in a World Cup year, is to bank on the young players instead of experienced players who may be unavailable through the season.