IPL Retentions 2018

So many thoughts on the latest retention decisions. Unreasonably excited to see what happens next at the auction on January 27/28. Analysing and reacting to the economics and business strategies used in a sports leagues can sometimes be more fun than the action itself!

My aim here is merely to make sense of the retentions that have just happened. For the most part, you can generally see what the teams were thinking. There seem to be three different types of influence on the decisions that each team made: the commercial influences that help teams to make money, the financial influences that help teams to save costs, and the on-field influences that help teams to win titles


 Chennai Super Kings retained MS Dhoni, SK Raina, RA Jadeja

Chennai Super Kings: The triumphant return of Thala Dhoni was a given from the moment the BCCI revealed the rules for retention for 2018. It is debatable how much he adds on the field but off the field he is an irreplaceable cash cow for CSK

The other two retentions are harder to defend from a cost-benefit perspective. On the field, 11 Crore feels a bit expensive for Suresh Raina and 7 Crore is ludicrous for Jadeja. It is possible that CSK are again thinking commercially - that the return of three heroes is better than the return of one - but I would argue that a winning Dhoni is much more valuable than a losing Dhoni with his two mates


 Royal Challengers Bangalore retained V Kohli, AB de Villiers, SN Khan

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli is the only other player who can claim to be worth his salary from the commercial implications alone. And unlike Dhoni, he is still in the prime of his career. He justifiably claimed a higher salary than the minimum deduction mandated by the league

Perhaps the added expense of keeping Kohli led RCB to shy away from retaining other domestic stars, such as Chahal and KL Rahul. That is the only explanation that I can give for retaining Sarfaraz Khan. His few IPL performances have been OK and he may turn out to be an extremely talented batsman but 3 Crore seems like a lot to spend on an unproven commodity


 Delhi Daredevils retained Chris Morris, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant

Dehli Daredevils: My initial reaction when seeing that Delhi had retained Pant, Morris, and Iyer was dismissive (see right). However, it eventually became clear that Delhi were not paying the players the full amount deducted from the auction purse. They are paying 22 Crore in salaries but 33 Crore will be deducted from the purse

This makes sense if we remember that IPL teams have other objectives than winning the title every year. They also like to make a profit. One of the less talked about auction rules for 2018 is that teams must spend at least 75% of the salary cap. This is to stop teams from spending the minimum possible on players whilst taking full profits from the TV rights. With these retentions, the Delhi Daredevils could spend just 49 Crore (61%) if they want to

However, even from that perspective, these selections seem a little overpriced. In the last 2 years, Rishabh Pant has a strike rate 140+ against all types of bowling. I love this guy and 8 Crore seems very reasonable for his services but I think that Shreyas Iyer and Chris Morris are both overpaid at 7 Crore each. Delhi may be looking to the future with these picks, hoping for better value in years 2 & 3 and when the next retentions come around


 Kings XI Punjab retain Axar Patel

Kings XI Punjab: There were better players than Axar Patel to chose from: Maxwell and Amla, for example. But those two are highly unlikely to have accepted less than 7 Crore for their services. Here we have another team who seem more concerned about their budget than about winning

If anything, I am surprised that they didn't also retain Manan Vohra for a cut price and achieve even greater savings. Knowing their history from previous auctions, it isn't a surprise to see KXIP finding ways to save money. Don't expect to see Kings XI to break the bank come auction time to build a team around him


 Rajasthan Royals retained Steve Smith

Rajasthan Royals: Having a fairly average team originally and then getting kicked out the league for two years doesn't leave you with many options. Retaining Smith for 12.5 Crore was probably the only plausible option. Except retaining nobody


Top 3

The following three teams have the best platforms going into the 2018 auction. All three teams are likely unconcerned by budget and will be looking to spend the maximum 80 Crore at auction. All that matters here is that they got the best on-field return, relative to the deduction from their auction purse

 Mumbai Indians retained Jasprit

Mumbai Indians: entering the process, Mumbai had an embarrassment of riches and eventually chose Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, and Bumrah to build a team around

Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Jos Buttler would have all had a chance to be retained at other teams, but not here. Mumbai spent the maximum possible on retention and I would argue that almost any combination of those six players could be justified at the cost

The only way that Mumbai could improve their outcome would be to retain Krunal Pandya. As an uncapped player he would only cost 3 Crore. They could retain Rohit, Hardik, and Krunal for just 24 Crore, much better value. But this ignores the fact that the players ultimately get to decide whether to accept the salary offered. I imagine that Krunal will have been asking for much more than that 3 Crore minimum

This makes Bumrah being retained for 7 Crore all the more remarkable! He should have definitely been negotiating upwards from there. Ultimately, this is what makes the Mumbai retentions work so well. I find it hard to believe that any of the other six players would have been willing to settle for that amount. If these retention decisions prove anything, it is that bowlers are criminally undervalued by T20 teams


 Sunrisers Hyderbad retained David Warner and Rashid Khan

Sunrisers Hyderabad: As soon as the retention rules were announced, it seemed obvious that the best way to get value for money was by retaining just two players. The second retention cost 8.5 Crore whilst the third retention cost 12.0 Crore. However, as we have seen, other factors can affect that logic and teams like Delhi and RCB ended up retaining three players

Not for Hyderabad. They managed to retain possibly the best overseas batsman and the best domestic bowler for just 21 Crore. What is even more amazing is that they could have retained the best overseas bowler too. Why didn't they do that? Why didn't they retain Rashid? No idea. Perhaps he didn't want to stay or perhaps he wanted even more money. Even without him, I think that the Sunrisers Hyderabad are sitting pretty heading into the IPL auction


 Kolkata Knight Riders retained Sunil Narine and Andre Russell

Kolkata Knight Riders: They could only retain two of their superstar overseas players. They had to leave out one of Narine, Russell and Lynn. Personally, I think that they made the right choice, if only because Chris Lynn's history with shoulder injuries affects his value

With Sunil Narine and Andre Russell retained , Kolkata already have a great T20 opening batsman, a top five finisher, a decent bowler, and the best bowler in the history of the game (sorry Rashid). And they only have 21 Crore deducted from their purse. What is totally baffling is that Narine and Russell are only taking 8.5 Crore and 7 Crore, respectively, in salary. They are worth so much more

If anybody has any ideas then please let me know. Biggest surprise of the auction if you ask me. Edit:  Possible that they can somehow compensate via the Trinbago Knight Riders in the CPL (?)