Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Interview: Welshman Richard is "Madley" in love with the IPL

Richard Madley. Pic/Bangalore News Photos

Who has ‘played’ off the field in all editions of the Indian Premier League in front of an audience? It’s auctioneer Richard Madley, who on Monday, will conduct his 10th IPL auction in Bangalore on Monday.

His work with the gavel for world cricket’s most glamourous leagues has earned him the title of the Hammer Man. The 59-year-old Welshman, a father of three, worked his way from being a floor sweeper at a London auction house. Madley played hockey at the junior level for Wales and played cricket for St Fagans, a place in Cardiff.
Excerpts from an interview:

This one’s different
Compared to the previous IPL auctions, this one been the most unsettled. Originally planned for February 4, the date was changed twice before settling on February 20 – once again in Bangalore but in a different hotel.

These changing times
The mood of the auctions and the tournament has changed since the heady days of the Lalit Modi era where the combination of glamour, sporting prowess, money and showmanship made the tournament a global hit. People still ask me what was it like to work in the early days of Modi reign and I say, without him, the IPL would not have existed and the game would be poorer for it. Modi gave me the chance to conduct the first auction and I have not looked back since. The man is a genius.

Welcome to the highlights
Over the last 10 years, there have been many highlights during the auctions, including highest bids of $1.4 million for Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, the tied bids for West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard which required the tie-breaker and surprise bidding for the unknown Bangladesh all-rounder Mashrafe Mortaza — starting at a base prize of USD 50,0000 and eventually being bought by Kolkata Knight Riders for USD 600,000. Then there was Gautam Gambir becoming the costliest cricketer after being bought by KKR for a record-price of USD 2.4 million but nothing beats auctioning MS Dhoni to Chennai Super Kings in the inaugural auction.

The bidding dramas
The auctions have not been without its bidding dramas — both involving Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and concerning disputed bids. The first contested bid was between Preity Zinta co-owned King’s XI Punjab and Vijay Mallaya’s RCB, which I settled immediately. The second concerned a late bid by KKR — again involving RCB. I settled both disputes in a reasonable manner — always mindful that I should be firm, fair — yet friendly.

Did you know?
Everyone talks about the 2008 IPL as the groundbreaking one, but do you know who went unsold in that first auction? Chris Gayle! In contrast, there have been players bought on their Test match reputation in the earlier auctions who failed to perform.

No change in preparation
I will prepare for the auction in exactly the same way as I have done for the past nine years — working on my pronunciations, player profiles and their performances. I will brief all the franchisees the evening before the auction is taking place and discuss increments, order of the sets and timing. I will take an early morning swim, select my favourite Indian Premier League gavel and check the saleroom for vision, audibility and smooth running. I will set a fair pace and not be swayed by the millions of viewers who will watching the telecast watching

An umpire-like role
My role is just like that of an umpire and I want to make the right decisions at the right time and ensure that fair play is adhered too. I’m excited about IPL-10 as I was about the first auction and will I have any nerves? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with feeling nervous before going in to bat as long as you leave them in the changing room. My nerves will leave me as soon as I walk on to that stage and I let my gavel do the talking.

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