On October 31, deadline day, the nine Indian Premier League franchises released 94 players, retaining the services of 179 for the 2013 season. In other words, one out of three players in the IPL will have to look for new teams next season. The culling can conceivably be termed major, and while the macro factors—a league whose sustainability comes under the scanner each time a club threatens to/is forced to pull out, and a set-up which operates in a larger, recessionary climate—can be held responsible, there may have been other considerations too.
The annual salary cap for each franchise is $12.5 million and a pruning of the squad will mean more cash to spend on the next auction while still retaining a core group of players will ensure a certain degree of continuity. Accordingly, there were two broad strategies that individual franchises adopted in deciding which of the players they would retain in their squads for the forthcoming season. Teams that have enjoyed relatively consistent success, in terms of qualifying for the knockout stages or winning the tournament outright, over the five seasons have clearly been doing something right and have decided not to muck about too much.
All teams that had made the knockout stages last year—Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians—have more or less worked along same lines, holding on to their big guns while allowing the contracts of the fringe players to run out. These teams have, over editions, come to settle on their combinations and decide on the right personnel for specific roles. For such teams, the imperative was to cut out the flak, leaving them with enough in the kitty for perhaps one big purchase in next year’s auction.
Chennai, who have made the final in four out of five editions and won it twice, were possibly one of the first teams that deliberately set to work on retaining a core group across seasons and auctions. This time too they have carried on with the philosophy of stability, retaining nine local and six overseas players, with the result that Chennai, the most successful team in the league, also have one of the smallest squad, at a cost of $9.3 million. But still, the side has struck an astute balance. Chennai has the most cash left over ($3.2 million) of the top five finishers last year, and the excess will probably be spent