We’re not here to review KKR’s 2020 but let us put this out there: the best performance from anyone related to the franchise came from CEO Venky Mysore on Ravichandran Ashwin’s YouTube channel. It is a nice interview, by the way. Pretty insightful it was.
By now we’re assuming that you’ve interpreted how cataclysmic their season was. They went into the mini auction and emulated Manchester City - spends of 27.5 crore, the highest of any franchise - yet on the field they turned out to be the cricketing version of Queens Park Rangers. They fought everywhere but in the ground, spent the whole season trying to figure out who their ‘real captain’ was and were managed by a man whose notes turned out to be as useful as the last four letters in ‘queue’.
A fifth-place finish flattered KKR and they were the meme-iest side in the competition up until the last day of the season, where they were out-memed by an equally memey Rajasthan side. So ahead of the auctions for the 2021 season, what really do McCullum & Co. need to do with their personnel to aim to restore a dynasty that seems to have long gone?
Pat Cummins (15.5 crore), Sunil Narine (12.5 crore), Chris Green (20 lakh) Nikhil Naik (20 lakh), Harry Gurney (75 lakh), M Siddharth (20 lakh)
Pat Cummins (15.50 crore): Retention/Release decisions don’t come more obvious than this. Neither is Pat Cummins irreplaceable, nor did he put up a showing last season that was worthy of keeping him. To splash 15.50 crore on Cummins was mind-numbing in the first place, so it is only fair that KKR make amends for their sin by releasing him. By doing so they will save a staggering 15.50 crore, with which they can buy multiple world-class players. There is no shortage of fast-bowling options in the market and also, if anything, KKR can even aim to buy-back the Aussie speedster at a lower price.
Sunil Narine (12.50 crore): It will undoubtedly be a heavy-hearted decision, for Narine has been the face of the franchise for 8 years, but the time has come for KKR to part ways with the West Indian. At 32, Narine is someone on a steep downward spiral, and IPL 2020 pretty much gave it away that he longer is the player he once was. His bowling, in particular, has degraded to the extent that he no longer guarantees even a wicket a match, and the presence of both Varun CV and Kuldeep means that KKR can afford to release the mystery spinner. 12.50 crore is a ludicrous amount of cash to save, and KKR necessarily don’t need to go ‘looking’ for a like-for-like replacement; they can invest and utilize the cash in so many other prudent ways.
Harry Gurney (75 lakh): A fine utility player to have in the squad, but given KKR’s strength in depth in the pace department, and given his own injury concerns, Harry Gurney is someone who is surplus to the club’s requirements.
Chris Green (20 lakh): Another excellent utility player, but Green, at this point in his career, is an unproven entity. As attested above, KKR have an abundance of spin options, so it would be wise of them to utilize this particular overseas slot on a much more established player.
Nikhil Naik (20 lakh) and M Siddharth (20 lakh)
Two more players surplus to the club’s requirements. Naik has looked out of his depth everytime he’s played, while Siddharth, despite being more talented, has no realistic chance of getting a look-in.
Marry (Retain at all cost)
The core of the side - at no cost should KKR ponder releasing any of these players. Although the franchise under-performed to a large extent in IPL 2020, it is of little doubt that they have one of the strongest cores in the competition. The addition of Morgan strengthened the side, and the emergence of Varun Chakravarthy and Lockie Ferguson coupled with the re-emergence of Mavi and Nagarkoti means that they have a foundation as strong as they come.
Frill (Retain as back-up)
Tom Banton, Sandeep Warrier, Rinku Singh, Rahul Tripathi, Siddesh Lad
Tom Banton: Another serial under-performer, but there is little reason for KKR to mull releasing Banton. At 1 crore - or even a bit higher, for that matter - they are not bound to get better options, nor will they be able to buy him back for a cheaper price. Worth keeping someone considered ‘generational’, you’d think.
Sandeep Warrier: An experienced head who adds plenty of depth to the already-rigid pace attack. Given the fragility of the fitness of KKR’s first-choice pacers, it will make all the sense in the world to keep Warrier, who himself is a unit.
Rinku Singh: He’s not turned out to be the ‘pocket rocket’ he was hyped to be, yet Rinku Singh is someone KKR need to keep. One, they are short on middle-order batting options, and two, there really aren’t too many attractive Indian back-up options in the market. Not of Rinku’s calibre, at least.
Rahul Tripathi: KKR owe an apology to Tripathi for doing him wrong in every way imaginable, so maybe retaining him would be a nice start. The Maharashtra batsman chipped in with selfless, match-winning contributions all through the season, and he certainly can turn out to be an invaluable entity if used properly, given the plethora of IPL experience he has.
Siddhesh Lad: Did not make an appearance last season, but his experience might come in handy should there ever arise a need to field him in the side.
Total number of players KKR need to retain: 11 (marry) + 5 (frill): 16
Total number of players KKR need to release: 6 (chuck)
Cash saved: 29.35 crore
Remaining purse: 37.85 crore
Final squad: Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Nitish Rana, Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakravarthy, Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Tom Banton, Sandeep Warrier, Rinku Singh, Rahul Tripathi, Siddesh Lad