Icon player is a status given to an athlete to indicate that they are the most valued player in the team. The title is most commonly used in domestic cricket, particularly in the Indian Premier League and the Pakistan Super League. The status can sometimes denote that the player will be among the first to be drafted or auctioned in the league.
Indian Premier League
Icon player was a status given to five players of the Indian Premier League. They were not a part of the first IPL players auction, which was held in 2008. They played for the team they were assigned to. The icon players received 15% percent more money than the highest paid player of the team bought in the auction. As of the 2010 season, the clause pertaining to icon players has been removed on account of complaints by franchises with icon players that having these players was a handicap in the player auction.
Initially there were four icon players designated by the Indian Premier League organizing committee: Sachin Tendulkar for Mumbai Indians, Sourav Ganguly for Kolkata Knight Riders, Rahul Dravid for Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Yuvraj Singh for Kings XI Punjab. Later, on the request of Delhi Daredevils, Virender Sehwag's name was added to the list. Deccan Chargers also asked for Icon Player status to be given to VVS Laxman, but he declined the offer in order to allow the franchise to spend more money on other players and still not breach the US$5 million salary cap. The purpose behind designating the icon players is to ensure that top draw players will represent their respective city sides, which is important for the league to increase fan support and interest among the locals.
It has been reported that all the franchises with icon players felt that having the icon player was a handicap in the player auction, as the money spent on the icon resulted in less room under the salary cap to purchase other players. For example, the presence of Sachin Tendulkar as an icon player was cited as the main reason why Mumbai Indians could not compete with Chennai Super Kings for Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Pakistan Super League
The Icon player status was given to five players in the first season of the Pakistan Super League. The five players would be the first five to be drafted in the league so that every team would have an Icon player. The title was not exclusive to Pakistani players and three out of the five icon players were foreigners.
The decision created controversy as it was reported that Pakistan's captain, Misbah-ul-Haq and highest test scoring batsman, Younus Khan were unhappy with their exclusion as Icon Players and threatened to skip the league if they were not given leadership roles.
List of icon players in the IPL
- Sachin Tendulkar for Mumbai Indians
- Sourav Ganguly for Kolkata Knight Riders
- Rahul Dravid for Royal Challengers Bangalore
- Yuvraj Singh for Kings XI Punjab
- Virender Sehwag for Delhi Daredevils
List of icon players in the PSL
- Shahid Afridi for Peshawar Zalmi
- Shoaib Malik for Karachi Kings
- Kevin Pietersen for Quetta Gladiators
- Shane Watson for Islamabad United
- Chris Gayle for Lahore Qalandars
- Cricinfo - IPL to decide on 'icon' status for Sehwag and Laxman
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- "Laxman truly is special". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India. 2008-02-21.
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- "Icon Player Information". RTBot.net.
- Toqui, Tahmid. "Pakistan Super League draft system and player Salary". TSM Plug. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
- "PSL icon players snub angers Misbah, Younis". The Hindu. Retrieved 10 August 2016.