Former India skippers and chief selectors, Dilip Vengsarkar and Kris Srikkanth have slammed the BCCI for the shoddy conduction of Duleep Trophy. As more than 15 players abstained from the tournament citing various reasons, the tournament has become more or less a farcical affair.
Initially, when the BCCI released the schedule for the 2017-18 domestic season, there was no mention of the Duleep Trophy and only after Sourav Ganguly’s letter to MV Sridhar, the BCCI general manager of cricket operations, asking why the tournament had been removed from the list of competitions, it was again reinstated and currently, it is being played in Kanpur and Lucknow.
Things became even worse when 10 players had backed out of the tournament citing various reasons – most notably as some players were eyeing overseas stints with county sides. Although bringing together the player pool at such short notice was always going to be an arduous task, it cannot be used as an excuse for the board not taking into account the availability of the players and their current fitness levels. Also, there has been no fixed pattern to organize the domestic curtain raiser since last three years, which made the tournament nothing but a farce.
This haphazard treatment has left Vengsarkar and Srikanth flummoxed as Vengsarkar came down heavily on the BCCI for ruining the format of the tournament.
“The Duleep Trophy is supposed to be the most prestigious tournament of the BCCI and more often than not, the selectors picked the national squads after watching the zonal matches, played by the cream of Indian players,” Vengsarkar was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
“The BCCI had made a mockery of the Ranji Trophy by staging it at neutral venues last year, thereby not only killing the interest of local spectators but also ensured that the players travel from Kashmir to Kanyakumari to participate in first-class matches,” he added.
The former selector recalled how the tournament brought the best players in the country on a single platform in a snappy first-class event that was so competitive that it all but prepared the protagonists for the tougher grind that the game is at the highest level.
“I remember in 2008, the BCCI had invited the England A team as the sixth team in the competition, apart from five zonal teams. The England A team had the likes of [Andrew] Flintoff, [Andrew] Strauss and Monty Panesar. As a result, the standard of cricket went up and domestic players got tested,” he said.
Srikkanth agreed with the sentiment saying that the importance of the tournament has been diluted by the changed format, from zone wise to random teams. “The Duleep Trophy should be given prime importance. It’s a premier domestic event which is just one step below international cricket. As a player, you want to play for your Ranji team, then in the Duleep Trophy, and from there for Rest of India, or God willing, India. We should go back to playing it in the zonal format, instead of dividing teams into India Red, India Blue, and India Green. There’s a different charm and feel to playing for your zone,” he told The Times of India.