Those IPL players who were recently retained by their respective teams and consequently don't fall into the auction pool, can consider themselves very lucky indeed. The development means that they can negotiate their contracts with their franchises. But this outcome undermines one of the fundamental principles of the IPL thus far - a common salary cap or limit.
By retaining players, the team's spending budget for the auction is accordingly cut. For the first player held back, the concerned franchise is set back by $1.8 million, $3.1 million for two, $4 million for three and $4.5 million for a maximum of four players.
But differing from the previous seasons, this time around, the salaries can be determined independent of the spending budget. In effect, there is no real salary limit at all. So the Mumbai Indians which retained four players could theoretically pay Sachin Tendulkar $4 million and each of the other retained players $2 million, making it a total of $10 million, but still only deduct $4.5 million from their auction budget. Similarly, the Bangalore Royal Challengers which only retained Viorat Kohli, could pay him below or above the amount of $1.8 million without worrying how it will impact their spending budget for the other players. The franchises do not have to disclose their contracts either.
Naturally, the new system gives franchises more flexibility and players the power to ask for salaries irrespective of the value of their winning bid. But in the process, teh concept of the salary gap, a concept borrowed from American sport and endcorsed by former IPL chairman Lalit Modi, gets nullified. The cap had created a level playing field for the smaller franchises like Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knightriders to compete with the might of the powerhouses running Mumbai or Bangalore.
Without a salary cap, there is consequently no transparency leading to multiple bigs possibly leading to secret tie-breakers and salaries negotiated outside the auction. The significance of the auction in the process get derided and the whole League becomes tantamount to a sham.
However, that is the cost of deregulation and perhaps. The open system might appear very biased in favour to the established players and unfavourable to the up-and-coming ones. But some might find the system fair, whereby players prove their worth on an uneven playing field by giving standout performance and in effect raising the stakes of the game.