A day after the BCCI announced that it will conduct most its domestic tournaments across age-groups with the coveted Ranji Trophy, starting on November 16, in the 2021-22 season, former India skipper and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar lamented the fact that the Board is not conducting the Irani Cup and the Duleep Trophy and Deodhar trophy tournaments this time.
“It’s shocking that the BCCI has not scheduled the Irani Cup, Duleep Trophy and Deodhar Trophy tournaments in its calendar in the forthcoming season. It’s important for the Board to invest in domestic cricket, and must pay full attention to it,” Vengsarkar told TOI on Sunday.
Cramped for space, the men’s domestic season will kick off only after the IPL in UAE, with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (T20) from October 20. This will be followed by the Ranji Trophy, which couldn’t be held last year due to the pandemic, and then the Vijay Hazare Trophy (One-Dayers) from February 23, 2022.
“With all the top players engaged in the IPL, the Board could not have started the domestic season earlier,” said a source.
However, Vengsarkar feels that that the Duleep Trophy and Irani Cup could’ve been scheduled earlier. “The BCCI can stage these tournaments, which are of tremendous importance in the domestic calendar, in August-September in Bangalore. Just because some players will be busy with the IPL, it doesn’t mean that the remaining domestic cricketers should be left twiddling their thumbs at home. Many domestic players, who don’t play in the IPL but are regular, senior players in their state sides will get the opportunity to play in these tournaments. Domestic cricket isn’t about youngsters alone. Also, youngsters will benefit playing with these experienced players. We should play these tournaments with whoever players are available,” suggested Vengsarkar.
“We can get the best five-six teams, on a zonal basis, to play in the Duleep Trophy. We should try and get an A team from England or Australia to participate in the Duleep Trophy,” he added.
Last season, the BCCI couldn’t conduct any age-group tournament and was forced to cancel the Ranji Trophy due to COVID-19 pandemic. The Mumbaikar listed out the benefits of organising the Duleep, Irani and Deodhar tournaments. “It will help India build its bench strength. You might get two-three fast bowlers, spinners and batsmen for the Indian team,” he said.
Vengsarkar also expressed concern with the role of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore. “What happened to the BCCI’s plans for what was supposed to be a grand, new NCA, for which it had earmarked Rs 300-500 crores. It had acquired land for this purpose in Devanahalli (near Bangalore), and there were supposed to be three grounds there,” he wondered.