James Fiztpatrick | cricket20
The IPL franchise owners have found themselves at the center of a political storm after Pakistan's top Twenty20 cricketers were snub on mass at today's IPL player auction in Mumbai.
Even though Pakistan are the current Twenty20 World Champions and boast some of the world best Twenty20 players like Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir and Abdul Razzaq no franchise was prepared to sign them up.
The first signs of an apparent mass snub were displayed when Pakistan Twenty20 skipper Shahid Afridi went under the hammer to start the auction. Despite being one of the worlds most wanted Twenty20 players no franchise was prepared to snap Afridi up.
With no bids forthcoming auctioneer Richard Madley was left with no other option, he banged his gavel and moved on with the auction. The cold silence from inside the Trident Hotel spoke a million words as a full scale political war erupted outside the lavish auction hall with Afridi later claiming the IPL had made fun of Pakistan.
"The way I see it, the IPL and India have made fun of us and our country by treating us this way. We are the Twenty20 World Champions and for me the attitude of the franchises was disappointing. said Afridi.
"I feel bad for the Indian people who I am sure wanted to see us play in the IPL this year" he added.
As the auction went on the silence continued from the franchises, Sohail Tanvir, the leading wicket taking during the first IPL was next to be shunned.
"They mean to say none of our players are good enough to be in the IPL. I am sorry to say the franchises have taken a decision not based on cricketing sense but on political grounds which is a shame and has hurt the image of the sport," Tanvir said after the auction.
Tanvir was angered even further after a number of franchises had shown an interest in signing him in the weeks leading up the auction. "Why create all this fuss about visa requirements and government clearances. If they don't want us they should be clear about it in the first place" he added.
When asked about the apparent snub Lalit Modi tried to deflect attention away from the issue claiming each team had there own strategy during the auction. "There were so many players left out in the auction and each team had its own strategy. I have no reason to believe there could be any other reason" Modi said.
"Availability of the players was a key issue with the franchisees without doubt," he added.
Even though players like Afridi and Tanvir would have been available for the entire IPL season franchise owners agreed with Modi and claimed the decison to 'snub' the Pakistan players was simply down to availability.
"Every team went into the auction with a strategy. Availability of the players for the entire season was one of the factors we took into account" said Kings XI Punjab owner Preity Zinta
The fall out from the auction looks set to continue despite the claims from Modi and the other franchise owners. After enjoying two years of unparalleled success the IPL commissioner now faces an uphill task to spin his way out of this storm.
One thing is for sure though, the Indian Premier League can't claim to be the best league in the world anymore. If players like Damien Martyn and Mohammed Kaif are selected over an entire team of Twenty20 World Cup winners the league as Abdul Razzaq put it, have lost out.
"They have basically tried to hurt our cricket and image and this is most disappointing because I believe there should be no politics in sports" said Razzaq. "In the end it is the IPL which has lost out because the fact is our players have star value and are the best in T20 cricket," he added.