Hugh Edmeades usually carries a hardwood gavel for most of his auction assignments. But when it comes to the Indian Premier League auctions, the Briton uses a special gavel made of brass.
He has been using it since the 2018 edition. And this time around, too, when the IPL mini auction begins at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Kochi on Friday, Edmeades will use the ‘special’ brass gavel.
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The seasoned auctioneer reached Kochi on Wednesday morning after a long flight from London via Dubai. Edmeades had a ‘whole new experience’ while carrying the brass gavel from London.
“They wouldn’t allow me to carry it in my hand luggage at Heathrow, so I had to put it in the check-in baggage. I explained to them that people of India wouldn’t be happy if they don’t see the old gavel, and thankfully, it is with me now,” Edmeades told Sportstar from his hotel in Kochi.
“Because it is made of brass, they consider it a tool or hammer. I tried telling the security staff that it was a gavel, but I could not convince them to allow me to keep it in my hand luggage. They insisted it was a hammer and said they would not allow me to carry it as hand luggage,” Edmeades said.
It was a long flight with a layover in Dubai, so Edmeades was worried about whether the gavel would land safely, so the moment he landed in Kochi, Edmeades opened his luggage to check if the gavel was alright. “I am glad it landed in perfect shape and is with me now.”
Edmeades took over from Richard Madley in 2018 and has been hosting the IPL auction ever since. He collapsed on the floor in the ballroom of the ITC Gardenia hotel on the first day of the mega-auction in Bengaluru in February this year due to “postural hypotension”.
While the medical staff attended to him, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) office-bearers requested Charu Sharma to fill in for Edmeades.
Edmeades returned to conduct the final phase of the auction amid loud cheers and a standing ovation from the franchises and the BCCI officials. However, there were apprehensions about whether the Board will continue with him as the auctioneer this time. But the Indian cricket board decided to continue with Edmeades, and he is excited to work again.
After the auctions got over last time, Edmeades had told this publication that it was “stupid” on his part to skip meals, which could have been one of the triggers behind low blood pressure. He is being more cautious this time. “This time, I have to ensure that I eat properly and take in a lot of fluids,” he said. “When I look back at the last time, I think I should have been more careful. I was quarantined for about five days after reaching Bengaluru, and around that time, I should have done a bit of exercise in my room. Since I did not feel hungry, I did not eat in time. That was stupidity on my part,” he said. “There have not been any recurrences after that, and I am looking forward to conducting another exciting auction.”
An independent fine art, classic car and charity auctioneer, Edmeades was associated with the iconic Christie’s for 38 years before going independent in 2016.
In December 2018, when Edmeades travelled to Jaipur for the IPL auction, it was a new experience for him. Even though he had conducted more than 2,500 auctions across the globe by then, it was his first stint with Indian cricket. But in the last four years, he has developed a fondness for the country and the sport.
The final auction pool will have 405 players from the originally registered 991, with a maximum of 87 slots available to be filled by the 10 franchises. Of these, 30 will be overseas players. There will be 273 Indian players and 132 overseas - including four from Associate nations. There are 119 capped players and 286 uncapped. “The joy of the IPL is that you don’t know who will bid for who. With 87 slots up for grabs, we will see how we churn up the first part of the auction before heading into the accelerating stage. We have some good names, and I hope they fetch good prices,” Edmeades said.
Edmeades wants to make his fifth IPL auction a memorable outing.
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