ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

IPL Auctioneer Hugh Edmeades Exclusive: Standing Ovation Was Overwhelming

Auctioneer Hugh Edmeades speaks about his collapse during the 2022 IPL auction, and his return.

Updated
IPL
7 min read
story-hero-img
i
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large
Hindi Female

12 February 2022. A day to remember.

As I was wondering why Quinton De Kock had gone for peanuts in the IPL 2022 auction and Suresh Raina had found no takers, a thud attracted my attention. When the camera panned from the franchise tables to the podium, a figure could be seen lying static, face down, as the staff and dignitaries looked around in desperation for the medics.

The man was Hugh Edmeades, only the second person to be appointed the IPL auctioneer.

Within seconds, social media was flooded with wishes for the speedy recovery of Edmeades. Those who knew the auctioneer, shared tidbits about the amiable man.

As the stream cut back to the studio, and an early lunch was announced, the fans waited with baited breath, for something that was now more important to them than even the closely-followed auction – the well-being of the amiable auctioneer.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Thankfully, he recovered speedily and was back to duty next day, closing off the IPL auction on Day 2, with a typical blend of zeal and composure.

I caught up with Hugh Edmeades, the man who took the Indian social media by storm on auction days, for The Quint. Below are excerpts from the conversation:

0

Do you follow cricket?

I do follow cricket, all the three formats. I also like to pay a visit to the Lord's at least once or twice a year.

Are you an MCC member?

No, a very long waiting list there.

You're one of the biggest names in auctioneering, having featured alongside big names like Nelson Mandela and Judi Dench as we can see on your website. How did the IPL gig come your way? When did the first communication happen?

The first communication happened in 2008 when the IGM Group was responsible for the IPL auction. Richard Madley ultimately got it and did an amazing job for 10 years.

Fast forward 10 years...

Fast forward 10 years and I got a call from a lady who then connected me to the IPL COO Hemang Amin.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

And, of course, you said no?

(Laughs) I had thought that the opportunity wouldn't come my way again, but it did, and I said to him, "Okay, yes" (smiles) and the rest is history.

What were your first thoughts when you heard that a new competition called the Indian Premier League is coming up?

I was amazed that such a tournament was coming up and that all the best players from around the world would be playing in it.

Thousands of cricket fans were left googling postural hypotension on 12 February. Had you heard of it before?

No, I hadn't. And contrary to a lot of reports, I never went to the hospital. I was taken to the ante-room after the fall. There, they told me that I had this postural hypertension. The BCCI was amazing and I was looked after very well.

Sounds quite dangerous, doesn't it?

It's basically low blood pressure. I never had low blood pressure in my entire life. I've always been fit and healthy.

I was in quarantine for five days in the hotel room where I could not exercise and ate a bit intermittently.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

What were the emotions like when you walked back on the dais amid a standing ovation to finish off the auction proceedings?

Well, I was overwhelmed. I thought that I'll sneak back into the room but two guys from Star told me that they wanted to catch that and then Charu Sharma announced my name and that was quite overwhelming, to be honest. That was the first standing ovation that I've got in my entire life (laughs).

There must have been concerns back home from your family.

Yes, my daughter was actually walking the dog when my Instagram lit up like a Christmas tree. My telephone was switched off at that point. Thankfully, someone brought it to me in my room.

The medical staff asked me if they should call, but I said no, I will do it. I made the call that everything is fine. I'm just resting in my room.

I went to sleep in my room. When I woke up, I turned on the television. I was a bit worried about the IPL auctions, but I was very relieved to see Charu Sharma. Initially, I thought he might not have a lot of experience about the auction but gradually I realised that he is a thorough professional and did an amazing job.

After the dust settled, you must have sat back and thought about the entire episode. What did you make of it?

I was really overwhelmed with the number of messages and wishes I received. It's great to know that there was so much concern and love for me from all across India.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Back to business, what's been your most memorable bid in this auction and over the last couple of years?

Well, Hasaranga will definitely stay in my life (laughs). Varun Chakravarthy, a couple of years ago. I think his base price was 20 lakh and he went for 8.4 crore. That was nice. I hadn't heard of Varun before. Presumably, two of the franchises had seen his potential and pushed the bidding all the way up. So that was fun.

Then again, last year, getting a record price for Chris Morris, again starting at 75 lakh [1.5 Cr] and stocked over a thousand [10 Cr]. I thought that was a good price.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Once the auctions resumed, from memory, I don't think there were any more bids for Hasaranga and the deal was closed off. I thought only if these guys could have done it a little quicker.

Yes (laughs), the bidding was very slow on him. I haven't replayed the bidding, so I really don't know what happened once I was off the stage.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

At 62, at a stage when you've been there, done that, what keeps you motivated, and what are the things you look forward to?

The thrill of the chase. Auctions can be quite dry and I enjoy the entertainment part of it and the challenge that I am selling a good auction.

I am generally selling pictures and furniture, slightly different from the IPL. The IPL is relatively straightforward for an auctioneer.

There were 10 teams this year but the previous three years, we had just eight teams. As you know, each franchise has to nominate their bidder and you only have to look at eight people. This year, I was looking at 10 people.

There is no telephone bidding, there is no internet bidding, which I have in my usual auctioneering job. Tomorrow, for example, I have an auction where there will be people in the room, there will be people bidding on the telephone. I think there are five different bidding platforms involved which makes it a lot more complicated than the IPL.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

When you wake up, what is the first thought in your head on most days?

What am I selling. Wonder how today's auction is gonna go. Not knowing what will happen. I really do not have any expectations. It's the joy of the unexpected.

In the IPL, when a player comes up, I have no idea who is going to bid for him. And, I think, if I had expectations and if the player did not go well, it might slightly throw me. So I think expecting the unexpected, or unexpecting the expected.

I love the job. I have been doing it for 38 years. I am also in the charity circuit so I help raise a lot of money for charities. I've done three or four in India, one up in Chandigarh a few years ago, which was fun.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

At a time when the world was a different place. No COVID-19.

No COVID-19. That's an additional factor that I had to factor in. In Bengaluru this year, in Chennai last year, I realised that not all the franchise members could be in the room so they'll likely be on the telephone, which will slow down the bidding.

So there are always the question of how long do I keep the bidding open. I try to be fair to all the franchises, to give one franchise a little extra time to bid for a player, then go to all the other franchises in the room.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Is it to do with body language as well? When you see that someone is likely to bid, you might end up giving them 5-10 extra seconds?

Body language with the IPL is a bit difficult. In my daily job, I can judge his or her body language, but in the IPL, you've got eight people sitting around the table but only one is going to bid. But, you can see other people shaking their heads or nodding.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

How do you manage an auction? Like, how do you take a call when to speed it up, pull things back at times, basically manage the tempo of an auction, and particularly of the scale of an IPL auction?

As I said, auctions can be a little dry, and a dull auctioneer can put the people off bidding. You don't want to be a stand-up comedian up there but you can use some humour and just smile. If you smile at people, they are more than likely to reciprocate.

We do exude a certain amount of psychological power, and the power of suggestion, it comes from the auctioneer. You can tell people to go for one more bid, and they'll say that he is telling me to go for one more, so I better do what he tells me.

Even if they are shaking their head and I say "one more?" and they say "no," I repeat "one more, yes?" and they go "okay."

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

All set for the IPL 2023 auctions?

I hope so. I wait for the BCCI phone call which probably comes quite late. I love India. Unfortunately, the four IPL auctions I have taken, I have had no chance to see the city.

Both, once in Jaipur and Kolkata, I had the jet to fly out that evening and then in Chennai and Bangalore, with COVID-19, I had no chance. But luckily, I have been on a holiday in India with my wife where we did the Rajasthan tour.

You live in a fascinating country, the people, the culture, the food.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Which Indian dish did you enjoy the most?

I like meat. I am not a great vegetarian so I tend to go for the chicken and the lamb. I am told chicken tikka was invented in the UK (er, contentious).

(Hugh Edmeades can be reached at www.hughedmeades.com)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from indian-premier-league-ipl

Topics:  IPL 2022   IPL 2022 Auction 

Published: 
Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More