Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Action behind The Auction: Behind the scenes at the IPL

[this article has been published here]

Three committees for business-class flights in the sky

Seven for the men who control each zone

Nine to ensure that the rebel league will die

One for the Dark Lord sitting on his throne.

In the Head-Quarters of the BCCI where the shadows lie

One Man to rule them all. One Man to find them,

One Man to bring them all, and in the Darkness bind them.

In the Head-Quarters of the BCCI where the shadows lie…


[Update: for those who didn't follow the dramatic bidding at the IPL's 2nd auction, you can read this.]

The governing council of the IPL – aptly named, for one man did the governing, the others formed the council – was in session. The second round of auctions for the IPL were about to start and Lalit Modi got up and cleared his throat:

“The IPL has been a dream of mine. It took a lot of hard work and vision to bring this dream to reality. I have been planning this for the past 13 years…”

As he spoke, one of the members groaned under his breath, “Oh god, he’s delivering that same speech again – the one he delivered on every news channel last year, and the one he delivered at the IPL’s opening ceremony when he got booed offstage by the crowd.”

Another one muttered (also under his breath), “Somebody please tell him monologues are fun only when delivered by Hamlet.”

However, stopping Modi when he was talking about himself was about as good a career move as sleeping with your boss’s wife – everybody wished they could do it, but no one actually did it.

His speech had as much originality as any Sanjay Gupta film, but one must bear with the rough stuff life throws at you under some circumstances, and at all times when there is nothing you can do about it – so everyone sat and listened.

It was just as well that they did, for Modi presently broached a topic that pricked everyone’s interest.

“This time,” he said, “I want Bangladeshi players to get a good deal.”

He paused, thinking how best to elaborate, which gave some of the members time to check whether they were hallucinating or not.

The most daring amongst the listeners asked: “But why?”

“Because,” came the snarled reply, “there are anti national elements at work, who will destabilize Bangladeshi cricket, and we need to counter that.”

The members were confused. Most having a secondary job as an MP or MLA or a politician’s relative, they knew that the latest chapter in that great work of fiction – otherwise known as Pakistan’s ‘Enquiry’ into 26/11 – pointed the finger at Bangladesh, but they couldn’t understand why Modi should abandon a lifelong policy of self-interest to suddenly take an interest in the country’s affairs.

But then one member saw the light. “Oh you mean the signings of the 13 Bangladeshi players by Subhash Chandra to the…”

“By He Who Must Not Be Named,” thundered Modi. “They were signed to The-League-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. And if I hear any of you speaking their names again, I will ensure that you live to regret it. I will strap you to a chair and make you listen to an endless loop of Arun Lal’s commentary.”

Suitably scared, the members resolved to never again utter the forbidden words.

One of them, however, felt he had to make a point – “But sir, you see, Bangladesh… they are losing so many matches. They hardly have any players of international class. How can the franchisees be expected to sign their players?”

“That is of no matter. We have promised to help them. And you fool, use your brains. We need to prevent Bangladesh from playing such terrible cricket that their test status comes under threat. One more vote at the ICC.”

This made sense to most of those present, but not entirely. Some were heard to mutter, “But what about Zimbabwe? We have kept them from being chucked out.”

However, faced with the specter of being subjected to Arun Lal’s obvious-to-the-deaf-and-blind-insightful-to-none voice, they didn’t air their misgivings too loudly, even though a few of the oldest members were thinking that it was morally wrong for them to be seen doing something purely to help someone else or to keep promises.

Also it faintly occurred to one or two amongst them that Bangladesh was actually not doing too badly, having improved in the past few months. However, since none of them could take out the time from their hectic schedule of politicking to actually follow cricketing events, this thought didn’t even reach the ‘muttered under the breath’ stage.

And then Modi spoke: “I have devised the perfect plan for us. You are all bacchas when it comes to wheeling and dealing. I have done dealings of all kinds. What we need here is not for franchisees to take on Bangladeshi players wholesale – we need to make it appear as if they are joining the big leagues, whereas this will actually not happen. We need one player from Bangladesh to go for a big sum, and I mean seriously big – this will ensure that everyone feels overjoyed and their players and administrators think that the future of Bangladeshi cricket lies in staying with us.”

While the members sat stunned with the beautiful simplicity of this plan, it occurred to one of them that mighty as this plan was, it still contained a flaw. A minor flaw perhaps, especially for someone who has successfully beat judicial systems worldwide, but one worth pointing out nonetheless.

“How will we get someone to pay a seriously large sum and for which player will it be?”

“You don’t really think I wouldn’t have thought of that do you?” said Modi. “It’s simple. We have to pick out two team owners who are more gullible than the rest, and hard-sell them the idea of owning a Bangladeshi player. Then we wait for the bids to escalate.

The player I’ve decided on is Mashrafe Mortaza. My research on him says that his priorities are in the right place. Also he happens to be one of the few people in the team who are actually good en

ough to play alongside most other world cricketers – but that is a secondary consideration.

Now, of the eight franchisees, six are owned by businessmen who by all accounts are very savvy. So our two candidates are the franchisees owned by film stars.

Think about it, they spend their time in a world of make-believe, they continue making so much trash and then give interviews where they say each film is ‘different’ to the other, they throw tantrums that most of us wouldn’t tolerate from three-year olds, and best of all, they think that they are actually intelligent! They are our perfect marks. Plus the auction will be attended by the actresses only this time, and it’s well known that actresses have a thing for fast men. If you’re still not convinced throw your mind back to the gems of intelligence that this breed has displayed. Think of Rakhi Sawant [whose solution to the Mumbai attacks was to dance in skimpy clothes for the terrorists and seduce them] or Kangana Ranaut [who didn’t know which day was Independence Day and which one was Republic day]…”

At this point Modi sighed. He was lost in fantasy wondering what it would have been like if Rakhi Sawant had been one of the team owners.

“Well anyway,” he continued “You can leave everything to me. I have already spoken to the actresses concerned, and they are both sold on the idea of having Mashrafe in their team.”

“You’ve already spoken to them? Er… shouldn’t this have waited until we could all voice our opinions?” asked one of the men.

“Oh cut it out,” said Modi impatiently, “As if any of you have a voice in this committee. I think I’ve made it pretty clear that my opinion is the only one that counts here. Well anyway, I have to get going. There is an important follow up meeting with the actresses tonight.” His eyes had glazed over slightly as he said these last words.

Suddenly the committee member who had spoken last gasped. He had seen the light. So might Archimedes have gasped before shouting Eureka, and attempting to start his own nudist colony. Suddenly it all made sense – Modi’s desire to get a Bangladeshi player, to give out half-baked excuses to justify raising the profile of Bangladeshi cricket, to voice unfounded fears of ever losing Bangladesh’s vote – they had all nothing whatsoever to do with that poor country. Modi had wanted all along a pretext to contact with one of the actresses who owned a franchisee. The committee member remembered the exact moment when he had had an inkling that Modi would sooner or later attempt to ‘get in touch’ with the lady.

As Modi prepared to leave, the door burst open and a BCCI lackey ran in breathlessly. “Sir, I have just received a communication from the Rajasthan Royals – they have sold a minority stake to Shilpa Shetty!”

The stunned silence that greeted these words was broken by one long utterance of frustration, of sorrow and of a realization that in his haste, he had missed an opportunity.

“DAMN!” said Modi.

Note: This post is in no way an attempt to make fun of or otherwise belittle Mashrafe Mortaza - who is a very fine cricketer and has held his own against far superior teams. He has gotten a slice of luck at the auctions - more power to him.


hridayramshenoy said...

Whew! Some cricket gyan man. Me just not into cricket :D

Anonymous said...

20-20 is like one night stand; short and uncomplicated.... enjoy it till it last and then forget about it

Anonymous said...

How you'll regret this post if Mortaza actually does well! I think one thing is very clear from the post, that you don't like twenty20. In that case, you're just biased.

Saurabh Somani said...

@ Anonymous 20.18: your comment about Mortaza is well taken. I had intended to put in a note to the effect that in no way am I belittling him. Forgot to put it with the post, however, it is there now.
your second comment however is much more interesting. assuming that your reasoning is right and that i actually don't like t-20 cricket - that makes me biased? so by the same logic if you don't like test cricket or mithun chakravarty movies or scrambled eggs or just about anything actually, you would be biased!
Riddle me this o master logician - since when does not liking something make one biased? by that logic, the whole world is biased, because everyone will have something or the other they dislike.
If you care to reply, do so un-anonymously, else I'll either delete or comment or ignore it, depending on my mood.

Saurabh Somani said...

@ hriday: yeah, i remember that from college, u weren't ever much into cricket. no matter, read some of the other posts, and who knows, maybe a love for cricket will flower :)

@ anonymous 18.46: that's as accurate a description of t-20 as i'll ever see!

shiv said...

think you shoulds stuck to the harry potter analogies though...the LOTR tangent doesnt seem to cut the same ice...

feedback frenzy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

shiv said...

and please kill the disclaimer...
so politically correct and just not cool....

Saurabh Somani said...

@ shiv: well, the LOTR thing is to actually draw a parallel between modi and subhas chandra - both supervillains of the same order, promoters of t-20 leagues!

wanted to add the disclaimer because i truly think mortaza is a fine cricketer.

Anonymous said...

Nice post Saurabh... good to see 2posts in the month of Feb... good work :)

Pushkar said...

Good to see some mocking. I like mock style very much. He-who-must not-be-named is one of my favourite terms (the great tom Voldemort) in Potter series. Yes, IPL deserves the flak for its adamant nature courtesy the feudal lords sitting up at high echelons like Mr Pawar & Mr Modi. Good work. Hope to see something like this in future as well.