Jacques Kallis, Adam Gilchrist top auction as legends see MCL ‘taking off’ in a big way

The Masters Champions League revealed team names and owners of the six franchises, but much of the attention and buzz centred on whom bought whom and for how much.

Jacques Kallis emerged out of the winner in the auction for the Masters Champions League tournament. His all-round abilities and having only retired recently added to his potential for franchises to consider. Randi Sokoloff / AP Photo
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DUBAI // They may look a bit older, and move a little bit slower, but there remains a place for them in the modern cricket world. And judging by the Masters Champions League’s (MCL) first auction, held in Dubai on Monday, they still retain considerable drawing power.

The likes of Jacques Kallis, Adam Gilchrist, Saqlain Mushtaq and Brian Lara will renew old rivalries in the new Twenty20 league for veterans. The league also revealed team names and owners of the six franchises, but much of the attention and buzz centred on whom bought whom, and for how much.

The most expensive purchase of the day was Kallis, bought by the Libra Legends for US$170,000 (Dh624,4000). Intuitively, the price makes sense given Kallis’s standing as one of the game’s greatest all-rounders and also because he only retired from the international game in 2014.

Each of the six teams – Virgo Super Kings, Libra Legends, Gemini Arabians, Sagittarius Soldiers, Capricorn Commanders and Team Leo – has been pre-assigned two Legend players and must buy one Icon player, as well as one player from Associate cricket.

The UAE’s Khurram Khan and Mohammad Tauqir were also picked up, by Sagittarius Soldiers ($22,000) and Team Leo ($10,000) respectively.

"It's marvellous the way things are moving, and a very professional approach has been taken by teams to the auction," Zafar Shah, chairman of the MCL, told The National halfway through the day.

“All the team owners are up for it. They aren’t necessarily after the big names, who may be older, late 40s or 50s, but really going for still-competitive players and I’m really surprised at the seriously good money Associate players have gone for. They are underrated but this is a platform where we can showcase unnoticed players.”

The league will be played between January 28 and February 13, in Dubai and Sharjah. Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Cricket Stadium will not be hosting any games, Shah said, because of logistical difficulties. In a tight window, a third venue, further way, would have been difficult to handle.

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Those dates, incidentally, clash with the Pakistan Super League (PSL), which is scheduled to be held from February 4-24 and will also take place in Dubai and Sharjah.

For Zafar, the day marked another step in a journey he undertook nearly four years ago. “I was imagining this to be a big tournament but it is exceeding my expectations, and the support we have been getting is tremendous,” he said.

“It’s more than three-and-a-half years since I first had the idea, but, technically, we really began about two years ago when we really started to plant the seeds for this event.”

Azhar Mahmood, the former Pakistan all-rounder, is one of the Legend players for Virgo Super Kings and he is one of several players participating who are still active in domestic leagues around the world. League rules allow MCL players to be participating in domestic twenty20 leagues, but not any international cricket. That, Mahmood and others believe, will provide matches with a fair degree of quality and competitiveness.

“From two months ago, the scenario has completely changed,” Mahmood told The National. “First we thought it was just for older, retired players, but now if you see, all the players are new, they are still playing and involved in cricket somehow.

“Some guy who has left five years ago, no doubt he was good then, but for him to return now into the groove, will take time. If you buy such a player, by the time he is back in the groove, the tournament will be over.

“If you look at the guys already picked, they are mostly playing cricket somewhere. I can really see this tournament taking off, it has big names in it who are still playing and it will be a great event.”

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

MEET THE TEAMS

Budget Available to each team – $750,000

Gemini Arabians

Owner: Nalin Khaitan

Legend and Icon players: Virender Sehwag (IND), Kumar Sangakkara (SL), Muttiah Muralitharan (SL)

Key auction players:

Kyle Mills (NZ) ($42,000)

Saqlain Mushtaq (Pak) ($42,000)

Jacques Rudolph (SA) ($58,000)

Sagittarius Soldiers

Owner: Orange Limited

Legend and Icon players: Mahela Jayawardene, Daniel Vettori, Adam Gilchrist

Key auction players:

Shane Bond (NZ) ($30,000)

Khurram Khan (UAE) ($22,000)

Capricorn Commanders

Owner: Sohail Khan

Legend and Icon players: Michael Vaughan, Abdul Razzaq, Paul Collingwood

Key auction players:

Andrew Symonds (Aus) ($120,000)

Ashwell Prince (SA)($39,000)

Chamara Silva (SL) ($30,000)

Upul Chandana (SL) ($30,000)

Libra Legends

Owner: Popcorn Sports and Entertainment Ltd

Legend and Icon players: Sourav Ganguly, Graeme Swann, Jacques Kallis

Key auction players:

Brad Hogg (Aus) ($68,000)

Ryan ten Doeschate (Ned) ($76,000)

Virgo Super Kings

Owner: Rhiti Sports

Legend and Icon players: Graeme Smith, Azhar Mahmood, Brett Lee

Key auction players:

Jonty Rhodes (SA) ($40,000)

Neil McKenzie (SA) ($52,000)

John Mooney (Ire) ($31,000)

Dirk Nannes (Aus) ($40,000)

Leo Lions

Owner: Manyata Dutt

Legend and Icon players: Scott Styris, Heath Streak, Brian Lara

Key auction players:

Herschelle Gibbs (SA) ($ 40,000)

Brendan Taylor (Zim) ($70,000)

James Franklin (NZ) ($62,000)

Johan Botha (SA) ($46,000)

Robin Peterson (SA) ($80,000)

Fidel Edwards (WI) ($90,000)

Mohammad Tauqir (UAE) ($10,000)

Neil Carter ($10,000)

Hamish Marshall (NZ) ($28,000)

Dates: January 28 – February 13, 2016

Venues

Dubai International Cricket Stadium and Sharjah Cricket Stadium, UAE

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