In a video uploaded on their YouTube channel, current Chennai Super Kings batting coach and former opener Michael Hussey had an interesting point to make. In his time as a player when he enrolled in the auction, the main thing on his mind was that he wanted to return to CSK. The price next to him didn’t matter.

And that, more than likely, would be the Plan A for CSK at the auction. “Let’s hope we can get many of the old CSK crew back again and add some quality to the group as well,” Hussey told CSK TV.

Chennai Super Kings were one of the teams along with Delhi Capitals, Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians to opt to retain 4 players each.

Of course, that is easier said than done because there are now 10 teams in the fray and CSK are the defending champions... most teams would have their eyes on the players that helped a team win a championship. Sure, CSK have built their own identity with a group of 30-plus cricketers who just know how to win. But, while experience can be bought, it might not come with the same names.

“I personally like going for experienced players,” Hussey added.

“A lot of people think T20 is a young man’s game, and it does have roles for young athletic players and gives young players opportunities, but experienced players have been in the pressure situations before. They’ve seen most things that can happen on a cricket field and in T20 cricket, it all happens under enormous pressure and very quickly. You need that guys who can keep calm and calm that’s one of the reasons why we have gone for experienced players in the past.”

We have been here before... in the past couple of seasons, we have questioned CSK on whether their recruitment strategy made sense. In 2018 and 2019, they went finished first and second. In 2020, all the questions raised about their squad building seemed valid, as they had their worst season, first time finishing outside the top four. But instead of rebuilding, they stuck to their guns and won the title in 2021. They have their plans, they make it work. Rather simple, really.

But, it must be noted, Dhoni (during his will-he-won’t-he dance that no one bought at the end of last season) spoke about the importance of looking at the next big cycle at this auction. So while they could still trust experience, perhaps a few potential younger, high-potential, long-term recruitments might be in order this time. It is, after all, time to prepare for a time beyond Dhoni too.

Players retained by CSK & their values

CSK Value
Ravindra Jadeja Rs 16 cr
MS Dhoni Rs 12 cr
Moeen Ali Rs 8 cr
Ruturaj Gaikwad Rs 6 cr
Season League stage finish Playoff result
IPL 2008 3rd Lost in the final
IPL 2009 2nd Lost in the semi-final
IPL 2010 3rd Champions
IPL 2011 2nd out of 10 Champions
IPL 2012 4th out of 9 Lost in the final
IPL 2013 1st out of 9 Lost in the final
IPL 2014 3rd Won in Eliminator, Lost in Qualifier 2
IPL 2015 1st Runners-up
IPL 2016 Suspended ––
IPL 2017 Suspended ––
IPL 2018 2nd Champions
IPL 2019 2nd Lost in final
IPL 2020 7th ––
IPL 2021 2nd Champions

Recent auction history: Hit or miss

It’s a curious thing to look at CSK’s recent auction purchases. Let’s look at 2018, first. When they returned to the league, they invested primarily on smart buys, not big big buys and got some great steals. Shane Watson at Rs 4 crore, Shardul Thakur at Rs 2.6 crore, Ambati Rayudu at Rs 2.2 crore, Faf du Plessis at Rs 1.6 crore. But their most expensive recruit – Kedar Jadhav at Rs 7.8 crore – didn’t work out. They picked up Ruturaj Gaikwad at base price of Rs 20 lakh in 2019 but paid Rs 5 crore for Mohit Sharma. In 2020, they paid Rs 6.75 crore for Piyush Chawla (when they already leg-spin options in the squad) and maybe had a steal in getting Sam Curran for Rs 5.5 crore. And a Rs 2 crore on Josh Hazlewood then paid dividends next year. And in 2021, they paid Rs 9.25 crore for Krishnappa Gowtham who barely made an impact (and also brought in Cheteshwar Pujara, in case you forgot).

So clearly, there are many more misses than hits from the auction table when they have spent the big bucks. It is the slightly more curious, lower-price options that have come to the fore.

Any off-season changes since IPL 2021?

Stephen Fleming, Michael Hussey, L Balaji, Eric Simmons and the crew – alongside MS Dhoni of course – will continue to be part of the think-tank that just knows how to keep things ticking. If they didn’t change much after their worst ever season, they are not going to change much after arguably their best ever, are they?

Who’s saying what

CSK batting coach Michael Hussey: “I think the opening partnership is really important with any team. If you’re going to have a successful season in the IPL, you’re going to get a lot of runs from the top three or four batters. And ideally, your openers do a great job and get the team off to a flying start. You don’t lose too many wickets at the top of the order. Ruturaj has been retained and he’s obviously gonna play a key role for us. He formed a magnificent bond with Faf last year, I don’t know what the plans are in place but ideally we’d love to bring Faf back at the top of the order.”


Overall purse remaining for all 10 teams

Franchisee Salary cap remaining (Rs cr) Open player slots Open overseas player slots
Chennai Super Kings 48 21 7
Delhi Capitals 47.5 21 7
Kolkata Knight Riders 48 21 6
Lucknow Super Giants 59 22 7
Mumbai Indians 48 21 7
Punjab Kings 72 23 8
Rajasthan Royals 62 22 7
Royal Challengers Bangalore 57 22 7
Sunrisers Hyderabad 68 22 7
Gujarat Titans 52 22 7