I don't know how many of you pay more than a passing interest in the IPL.
My own interest has, to be honest, waned since it was found that match-fixing had been rife, leaving two sides, the Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings, suspended for two years from this year. Sadly, it leaves one wondering if any of the performances are legitimate, which is quite sad when the competition has featured some of quite breathtaking brilliance.
Yesterday saw the main draft of players for this season's tournament, a day that always throws up surprises. This year's major beneficiary was Chris Morris, who regular readers will know as a player I rate, with both bat and ball. He has looked a little off genuine international standard, but won't be too fussed with that, after pocketing a cool million dollars on signing for Sunrisers Hyderabad. Nor will West Indian Carlos Braithwaite, a decent cricketer but no more, who was worth half a million pounds to the Delhi Daredevils.
Yuvraj Singh, a fine player who has seemed off his best since his return from serious illness, nevertheless attracted his third million-dollar bid in succession, while Pawan Negi, a 23-year old left-arm spinner with a highest first-class score of 30 and four wickets in addition, became the highest paid uncapped player in the competition's history in becoming a millionaire.
It is astonishing. I have never seen the lad, but he will need to go some to justify that sort of money, with figures that suggest he is some way behind our own Tom Knight in the development stakes. Good luck to him, as opportunity has certainly knocked, albeit with a nine-pound hammer.
Yet what was even more extraordinary was the players for who there were no bids. Martin Guptill, despite one-day displays of dazzling brilliance in the past twelve months, went unsold, as did Usman Khawaja, the best Big Bash batsman this winter. So too did George Bailey, one of the best finishers in the world game. Nor were there bids for Mahela Jayawardene or Michael Hussey, with proven records in the format.
I find it utterly bizarre. Be honest, how many of you would plump for a name from the third and fourth paragraphs as Derbyshire's T20 specialist this year, over one from the last? I am unsure what criteria are used in the selection of squads, but it would appear that common sense isn't necessarily one of them.
Having said that, the Royal Challengers Bangalore would appear the team to beat this year. I suspect that a few bowlers may develop niggles ahead of facing Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers as a top four.
On a good strip, anything under ten an over against that little lot would be good going, unless they try to outgun one another and perish in the attempt. That often accounted for either Viv Richards or Ian Botham on the occasions they batted together.
Tarnished as a competition yes, but probably still worth keeping an eye on.
I guess Gup will need to start scoring more one-day double centuries to catch the eye...