Dilip Vengsarkar Photo Courtesy: Abhijit Banare
Dilip Vengsarkar Photo Courtesy: Abhijit Banare

The current edition of Duleep Trophy was earlier scrapped by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) but was reinstated following request of CAB President, Sourav Ganguly and the Committee of Administrators (COA). Duleep Trophy named Duleepsinhji has from unprecedented heights fallen to merely a namesake event.

With player unavailability, sponsorship issues, and hardly any television time, the BCCI has done nothing to restore the sanity of the tournament. BCCI even went ahead and changed the format to teams rather than zonal system.

This has only irked the likes of Dilip Vengsarkar and Krishnamachari Srikkanth. Speaking to Times Of India, Vengsarkar told, “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.”

“Not to be outdone, from last year, the technical committee changed the format of the most prestigious tournament of the BCCI, the Duleep Trophy by doing away with the zonal system with three teams, India Red, Green and Blue. 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,” he explained.

He further recalled the importance of Duleep Trophy during his time as cheif-selector.  “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.”

“Since international cricket is packed with tours and home games, the ideal time to stage the Duleep matches would have been in July-August either at Bangalore or Hyderabad or at Chennai where it doesn’t rain during the time. India Red, Blue and Green, to me, makes no sense,” he concluded.

Srikkanth too seconded Vengsarkar’s words,” “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.”