Cricket: Black Caps in line to make big IPL money

By David Leggat

New Zealand players will be among those going under the auctioneer's hammer when the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League takes shape over the next two nights.

One of several unknowns, though, is how many will be in the final cut in Bangalore.

The auction will feature about 340 players from round the globe fluttering their eyelashes at the owners of 10 franchises, who are due to contest 74 games from early April.

Getting specific information about the auction is like grasping fog. It's not even 100 per cent confirmed there will be 10 teams - two up from the first three years - with court action between the Indian board and the Kings Punjab XI and the Rajasthan Royals having loomed darkly over the leadup to the auction.

Both franchises have fulfilled conditions imposed by the Bombay High Court of filing affidavits related to bank guarantees.

The Royals had to put up US$10.63 million ($14 million); the Punjab operation US$21.5 million as security to cover salaries and their contract with the Indian board.

About 25 New Zealand players put their names in the hat when the initial list of over 400 players was being finalised late last year.

No one knows how many survived the first cull. Players had to put a reserve price on themselves for the auction. There were six bands available - ranging from US$20,000 to US$400,000.

Once they settle on what they believe is their value, they cannot be bought for a lower price.

New Zealand's three premier cricketers, captain Dan Vettori, senior batsman Ross Taylor and wicketkeeper-opener Brendon McCullum, are in a group of 22 players sitting in the top bracket.

Other big names in that group include Australians Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee, West Indian Chris Gayle, Sri Lankans Mahela Jayawardene and Tillekaratne Dilshan and South African captain Graeme Smith.

English players Mike Yardy and Luke Wright, who played for Central Districts and Wellington respectively in the HRV Cup, are also in that bracket, which starts to look silly when veteran West Indian Brian Lara's name pops up too.

The rules have changed for this year and there are fish-hooks players need to be wary of.

"We sent out a brief to players before they signed the auction agreement," Players Association boss Heath Mills said yesterday. He is confident those who get offered contracts will be aware of what the deal entails.

One aspect of the IPL rules this time should be an incentive for all national boards.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India will pay each country's board about 10 per cent of the fee for which a player is signed. That is separate from the contract fee which goes to the players.

Depending on how many New Zealanders are contracted, that could be a nice little earner for New Zealand Cricket.

Any players picked up are locked into a contract at that amount for three years, irrespective of whether their status and form rises or drops.

One notable change for the players to consider this time is that they must be available for promotional work for the franchise, or face a trimming of the money; part is conditional on that franchise making the Champions League, to be held in India later this year; and players must be picked to be paid.

In the past, as long as an overseas player was available he got paid, even if not named in the final XI.

Past auctions have thrown up some bizarre decisions. In 2008, Indian seamer Ishant Sharma, a good but not dazzling performer, was listed at US$150,000, but bought by the Kolkata Knight Riders for US$950,000.

The following year, Bangladesh seamer Mashrafe Mortaza, put up at US$50,000, was bought by Kolkata for U$600,000, which seemed to defy any cricket-based logic.

- NZ Herald

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