KP leads big boys in IPL auction
Kevin Pietersen may have lost the England captaincy after only six months and found out that his teammates didn't support him in his bid to get former coach Peter Moores replaced, but you can't blame him if he still has a smile on his face.
Pietersen is the highest priced player of the 43 cricketers who will be on sale at the second Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, which gets underway in Goa today.
The eight franchises, with a budget of $2-million (Dh7.12m) each, have a chance to bolster their squads ahead of the start of the second IPL season, which begins on April 10 and all of them are eyeing the swashbuckling Pietersen.
The South Africa-born batsman has a base price of $1.35 million (Dh4.8m), which is the amount the second highest paid player in the 2008 auction, Andrew Symonds, was purchased at.
It also means the right-hander is well placed to overtake Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni ($1.5m) as the best earner in the 44-day tournament.
The reason KP is so coveted is that not only is he an accomplished ball-striker, but his personality makes him a brand-image for any franchise who buys him.
"There are two things driving the auction," says Amrit Mathur, the chief operating officer of the Delhi Daredevils. "One is basic team need. The second is if somebody is attractive in terms of sponsorship he can be sold for a higher price next year.
"It is like getting David Beckham – he may not take part, but he has an appeal beyond the field of play."
The only other player at the auction who can provide a brand-image even close to Pietersen is his England team-mate Andrew Flintoff – who has a base price of $950,000, as Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke ($1m) has pulled out citing international commitments.
With most team slots filled from last year, franchises will have a clear idea about who they want to purchase this time to strengthen their brands and squads.
The strange buying trends of 2008, where experienced cricketers such as Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey were bought for less than minor internationals, are unlikely to occur again as more focused and strategic bidding takes place.
A team such as Bangalore suffered last season with their policy of fielding a batting line-up consisting of Rahul Dravid, Wasim Jaffer and Jacques Kallis. The idea looked more suited for a five-day game instead of Twenty20 cricket, so the Royal Challengers may need to buy more players than most teams and will be therefore more desperate to land Pietersen or Flintoff.
Delhi, on the other hand, have already filled their quota of 10 overseas players and are unlikely to make many swaps.
Although, the decision from the Pakistan government to prevent its players from participating in the IPL – due to the heightened tensions between the two countries caused by last November's Mumbai bombings – means that several franchises have further slots open.
The IPL announced this week that franchises may replace their Pakistani players after the auction with any of the cricketers not sold today, or with someone from the 111-strong preliminary list.
Another player who will have a smile on his face is South Africa's JP Duminy, who, at a base price of $300,000, is the fourth most expensive player on show. Not bad for somebody who people outside his homeland barely knew existed two months ago.
The left-hander is a perfect example of being in the right place at the right time and his recent match-winning performances on the Proteas' tour Down Under have thrust him into the limelight.
Full list of players on auction today
Australia: Aaron Bird ($45,000), Brett Geeves ($45,000), Bryce McGain ($50,000), Daniel Harris ($50,000), Dominic Thornley ($50,000), George Bailey ($50,000), Jon Moss ($50,000), Michael Dighton ($85,000), Michael Hill ($50,000), Phil Jaques ($100,000), Shane Harwood ($75,000), Shaun Tait ($250,000), Steven Smith ($75,000), Stuart Clark ($250,000)
Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan ($75,000), Mohammad Ashraful ($75,000), Mashrafe Mortaza ($50,000), Tamim Iqbal ($50,000)
England: Kevin Pietersen ($1.35m), Andrew Flintoff ($950,000), Luke Wright ($150,000), Owais Shah ($150,000), Paul Collingwood ($250,000), Ravi Bopara ($150,000), Samit Patel ($100,000)
New Zealand: James Franklin ($50,000), Jesse Ryder ($100,000), Kyle Mills ($150,000)
South Africa: Gulam Bodi ($100,000), JP Duminy ($300,000), Morne van Wyk ($100,000), Tyron Henderson ($100,000), Yusuf Abdullah ($25,000)
Sri Lanka: Thilan Thushara ($100,000), Nuwan Kulasekara ($100,000), Kaushalya Weeraratne ($50,000), Chamara Kapugedera ($150,000)
West Indies: Kieron Pollard ($60,000), Fidel Edwards ($150,000), Dwayne Smith (to be confirmed), Kemar Roach ($50,000), Jerome Taylor (to be confirmed)
Highest paid players in 2008 IPL
Name Franchise Salary (US$)
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Ind) Chennai 1.5 million
Andrew Symonds (Aus) Hyderabad 1.35 million
Sanath Jayasuriya (SL) Mumbai 975,000
Ishant Sharma (Ind) Kolkata 950,000
Irfan Pathan (Ind) Mohali 925,000
Jacques Kallis (SA) Bangalore 900,000
Brett Lee (Aus) Mohali 900,000
RP Singh (Ind) Hyderabad 875,000
Harbhajan Singh (Ind) Mumbai 850,000
Note: Excludes Indian icon players
Follow Emirates 24|7 on Google News.