IN THE closed bid process, the six franchises for the Coal India Hockey India League 2017, picked their players to complete their teams for the 2017 competition. The closed bid was held at The Lalit Hotel in New Delhi.
With an eye on solidity and consistency over flashier purchases, the six franchises: Dabang Mumbai, Delhi Waveriders, Jaypee Punjab Warriors, Kalinga Lancers, Ranchi Rays and Uttar Pradesh Wizards, bid cautiously and sensibly to ensure they had competitive squads going into the 2017 tournament.
According to the rules all teams operated with a $725,000 cap on the purse. Having retained their squad for a significantly lesser amount, Ranchi Rays and Jaypee Punjab Warriors had a larger purse available for the bidding process.
Most teams had largely fixed on their 20 man squads, although UP Wizards went into the auction with 15 members of their squad fixed, leaving space for five new players (three domestic, two foreign) to be added from the closed bid.
Among the players available in the closed bid were Indian goalkeeper Sushant Tirkey, Netherlands internationals Jaap Stockmann, Mink van der Weerden and Olympic Gold medallist Lucas Rossi.Â
Gurbaj Singh was the first player to go in the bid for USD 99,000 to Ranchi Rays. Among the foreign players it was the German forward, Christopher Ruhr who went to Ranchi Rays, securing their second player at USD 75,000. Other notable bids were for Tom Craig (Kalinga Lancers), Robert van der Horst (Jaypee Punjab Warriors) and Seve Van Ass (Uttar Pradesh Wizards).
It was also a heartening sight to see many of the franchises choosing to put their faith in the youth players from the list in the closed auction. 18-year-old defender, Hardik Singh was the most expensive of the signings, picked by Jaypee Punjab Warriors for a whopping USD 39,000. Shamsher Singh was picked by Uttar Pradesh Wizards, Ajay Yadav was also picked by Uttar Pradesh Wizards and Indiaâ€™s U-17 Asia Cup winning Captain, Nilam Sanjeep Xess went to Kalinga Lancers.
Talking about the auction process, Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra, FIH President and Chairman Coal India Hockey India League, said,
â€œI would first like to emphasise the importance of the HIL in contributing to Indian hockeyâ€™s rise in the rankings. The professionalism of the league is commendable and all credit for this must go to the franchises themselves, who have conducted their work in a manner that is source of inspiration for world hockey. In regard to the closed bid, Iâ€™m happy to see that keeping with the trend, even this year, the process has been more rewarding to the players, and the teams have consistently looked to bid way higher than their base prices. It goes to show how valuable and talented each of the players are, and subsequently how tightly contested and closely-knit the league is now.â€
Mr. Saumya Khaitan, from Dabang Mumbai said, â€œWe had come in with an almost complete roster, having filled our domestic quota and so were looking for a couple of international players who would give the squad a bit of an edge and are happy to have found that in our signings.â€
Capt. JS Randhawa representing Delhi Waveriders at the closed bid said,
â€œOur squad has been together for a while and by retaining it, we are looking to provide it some consistency and add a balance to it. Looking forward to the league commencing now.â€
Jaypee Punjab Warriorsâ€™ Mr. Inderjeet Vinayak said,
â€œWe retained a large part of our title winning squad from last season, and saw no reason to make outlandish signings despite our ability to do so. The players we have got from the bid are youngsters who we believe will not just benefit from the HIL experience but also add some energy to our squad.â€
Mr. Sushant Kumar Dash, from Kalinga Lancers said,
â€œTom Craigâ€™s inclusion to our side will add experience and grit. He is a very gifted player and we were happy to secure him for the amount we did in the end.â€
Ranchi Raysâ€™ representative Mr. Sumit Seth said,
â€œClosed bids are driven by the dynamics of demand and supply and we had a significant purse to cash. We were looking to add a couple of players who would improve the quality of the side. Gurbajâ€™s experience and ability in defence is incomparable and we are glad to have him with us. Christopher Ruhr is widely regarded as one of the more exciting young players in the world today and his inclusion to our forward line can only make us better.â€
Mr. Maneck Kotwal from the UP Wizards said,
â€œWe are very happy with the team that has come together. We feel itâ€™s the right mix of youth and experience, which also works best in terms of growth for upcoming players and the quality of the sport. We have always focused on promoting and nurturing Indian talent and standing by our views, we have a very good line up of Indian players in the squad. With the international players on the squad, our strengths and game strategy will get reinforced. We are excited about the upcoming season and are focused on bringing home our first HIL title.â€