Kochi got IPL but what about players. This commercial capital of Kerala which spent 333 crore in winning franchisee bid is expected to spend huge amounts on players also.
Even though no names are being brandished about openly at present and Rendezvous Sports World Private Limited (RSWPL), owners of the Kochi franchise, has yet to announce their plans, there are already enough names doing the rounds for IPL IV. Rendezvous Sports World Private Limited-led consortium putting off important decisions regarding the players, support cast and the name of the Kochi IPL franchise till the end of the current edition, speculations are flying thick and fast.
Former West Indian batting great Brian Lara is being proclaimed as the number one target for the new entrant while former South African all-rounder Lance Klusener and Aussie star Michael Clarke, named skipper for next month’s T20 world championship in the West Indies, are among those floating around even as the owners continue their in-house deliberations on the future course of action. Also in the frame, supposedly, is Australian legend Steve Waugh as coach. With the original eight franchises set to benefit from getting to retain four Indian and three foreign members of their squad next season, the two new franchises are looking beyond the field.
RSWPL CEO Shailendra Gaikwad insisted serious contemplation on likely players was yet to begin yet; he hesitated when TNIE confronted him with the Waugh question. “We will decide on player composition later. There are certain names in our mind, but I just want to say that we are still unsure. We will start the process in the coming 15 days,” he said on Sunday.
Keshav Patel from the Rosy Blue Group – co-owners of RSWPL – said that while the absence of a number of stars in next year’s auction could affect his team’s composition, they would still have plenty to choose from.
Without either confirming or denying it, Gaekwad said over phone from New Delhi, “I can speak of all those things only at the end of IPL III.” Adding to the intrigue, another unconfirmed report talked about Lara being in contention for a job with Kolkata Knight Riders. The West Indian wizard, who was in India for the first few games of the IPL, was spotted cheering the team alongside KKR owner Shah Rukh Khan at the Eden Gardens.
Though the classy Lara would indeed be a crowd puller, apart from being a massive asset on the field, Klusener is hardly the choice most experts would opt for. The hard-hitting lefthander, who won the player of the tournament award in the ICC World Cup in England in 1999, has been out of the scene ever since Graeme Smith took over the Proteas’ captaincy in 2003.
As for coach, there would not be too many with a better track record of getting things right when the chips are down than the ice-cool Steve Waugh.
The co-owner of the franchise, Vivek Venugopal, however said that the franchise was yet to finalise the details. “The IPL match will take place only next year,” he said. “We have much work still left before getting into any agreement with anyone. We are yet to register as a private limited company.” With the eight current teams having the right to retain four Indian and three foreign players next season, the Kochi side will have to play their cards right to get the balance between star power and finding young talents to make a mark.
On Sunday, all members of the little-known consortium came together for the first time and said they had been planning for the bidding since six months ago.
The franchise has also shown interest in scheduling IPL matches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. “Both places have good infrastructure in place. Since we are based out of Dubai, we will be glad to have a match there if the league allows us to do so,” Patel said.