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Wednesday, May 09, 2012 at 11 : 54

IPL transfer window needs a financial cap


Kings XI Punjab skipper Adam Gilchrist thinks the IPL is gradually becoming a league of 'haves' and 'have-nots' - is his concern realistic, or is he just being overly critical? His appeal to find a level playing field for all teams, monetarily, could be brushed aside by the cynics as a case of sour grapes - Kings XI could not find the money to buy players at the auctions due to their impending court case. Or, one could also argue, that IPL, or any league for that matter, isn't supposed to be equal. Aren't Manchester United and Real Madrid the best teams in their leagues because they have the deepest pockets, and hence best players? So, what's the fuss to make a level playing field for all the teams in the IPL - parity could make the sport boring because the fun of following a sport is in the presence of perennial underdogs. Does that make Gilchrist's call for equal opportunity weak?

Both Deccan Chargers and Kings XI Punjab refused to spend their full purse at the auctions and hence the bigger (read richer) teams walked away with the best talent available. But just because some teams chose not to spend their money doesn't mean Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings can be called bullies. By far, the IPL governing council has done its bit to encourage fairness by allowing an equal purse to all the teams. The auctions could've run amok with the rich getting richer and poor walking away poorer if that wouldn't have been the case. In fact, the equal-purse policy has meant that the smartest team and not necessarily the richest team becomes the strongest team.

There was another incident of a certain franchise hoarding talent by signing over 60 cricketers because they had the resources to do so. Before it could become a coup of sorts with a couple of teams acquiring all the talent, the IPL governing council stepped in to put a cap on the maximum number of players a team could sign, which was again a great initiative.

That really is the point - if there's so much emphasis on bringing parity at every level, why isn't the same principle followed in the trading window? Why isn't there a cap on the money a team can spend outside the auctions? Precisely the point Gilchrist raises.

We have seen Deccan Chargers off-loading Pietersen and Ojha even though they could ill-afford it. It's quite obvious that their decision was more of a profit and loss business decision than a cricketing one. They may have made a bit of money in the transaction but it brought the standard of competition down. It doesn't surprise anyone that they're languishing at the bottom. It may not be hurting the owners but such moves could be damaging for the league.

Financial impartiality is imperative for IPL's success because the tournament is still very young and needs nurturing. The fan loyalty takes decades to build up and hence allowing a few teams to become the Manchester United and Real Madrid of the IPL will be detrimental for the tournament. It's a little naive to believe that people will continue to follow a team even if it gets beaten every day.

Hence, it would be wise to have a financial cap during the transfer window too or else this could be the last season for Dale Steyn, Shaun Marsh and other performers for their relatively weaker teams. Rich may get richer but the IPL will get poorer.


More about Aakash Chopra

Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test Cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for the country in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after the legendary Eknath Solkar. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. A grand total of 783 runs came off Chopra's bat in Delhi's title-winning Ranji Trophy in 2007-08. Chopra currently plays for the Rajasthan Royals of the Indian Premier League and represents Rajasthan in the Ranji Trophy, after having played for Delhi for over a decade. He also amassed a massive total of 734 runs in Rajasthan’s Ranji victory in the year 2010-11. In 2009, Chopra turned author with Beyond the Blues: A First-Class Season Like No Other. The book garnered critical appreciation while Cricket Pundits like Suresh Menon claimed it to be "the best book written by an Indian test cricketer” in his review for www.cricinfo.com. Aakash continues to tell the story of Indian cricket, its frustrations and fantasies, through his popular weekly column in The Hindustan Times, www.yahoo.com, www.cricketnext.com, sports magazines and through various TV shows.