The ongoing Duleep Trophy has been under the scanner for several reasons. Initially, it was not even going to take place but was included in the domestic calendar at the last minute on the insistence of former India captain Sourav Ganguly. Many top players gave the tournament a miss due to injuries and a packed calendar. Due to the last-minute inclusion, the matches are not being telecasted live except for the final, which would be played from September 25-29.
While the upcoming players like Baba Indrajith and Priyank Panchal showing off their chops in the tournament, it has still largely been a disappointment in terms of performance and star power. The Duleep Trophy is still being played as an experiment with the pink ball, but this year’s edition has still been lacking on various fronts.
This haphazard treatment of the once elite domestic competition has been slammed by the former India players Dilip Vengsarkar and Krishnamachari Srikkanth. Vengsarkar came down heavily on the BCCI for ruining the format of the tournament and the continues experiments with the domestic structure after the neutral venue for Ranji Trophy matches last season.
“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 used to be an important and competitive one for domestic players. “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.
Currently, the big names in the Duleep Trophy are Suresh Raina, Karun Nair, and Dinesh Karthik, with many international players missing out due to the limited-overs series in Sri Lanka and the upcoming one against Australia.