Board to popularise college tournaments

By reviving the quality of competitions at varsity level, we can identify more talent, says former India opener Anshuman Gaekwad.

“Some of the outstanding talent emerged from inter-university tournaments," former India opener Anshuman Gaekwad said.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has planned an ambitious project to revive cricket in colleges.

As a first step in this direction, the Board has decided to “glamourise” the Vizzy Trophy, the inter-zonal university cricket tournament.

“It would be a throwback to the time when university cricket was big,” said an official. “We will have live telecast of the Vizzy Trophy final. The visibility factor matters a lot and I am sure the best cricketers will make themselves available.”

In recent times, the Rohinton Baria Trophy, an inter-college competition, and the Vizzy Trophy had lost their lustre due to poor participation.

“College sport, especially cricket, has been devalued. The best cricketers hardly turn out,” he insisted.

According to noted sports commentator Novy Kapadia, “Most colleges struggle to raise a proper cricket team. Even otherwise, I have seen an alarming drop in the number of good cricketers wanting to study. They have begun to earn good money by playing cricket 365 days and don’t have to look for a job that comes from a college degree.”

Old-timers recall college and universities contests. “Some of the outstanding talent emerged from inter-university tournaments. The age group tournaments were not so prominent and schools and universities provided the supply line for the selectors,” recalled former India opener Anshuman Gaekwad.

Gaekwad was one of the many who donned India colours by performing in universities cricket. “We would work hard to get into the Combined Universities team for the tour match against visiting national teams. It was a big fixture on the domestic calendar,” said Gaekwad.

Among others who excelled for India after good performances in the Rohinton Baria and Vizzy Trophy were Ajit Wadekar, Sunil Gavaskar, Bishan Singh Bedi, Dilip Vengsarkar and Kapil Dev.

“I was 21 when I first played for India and was considered a youngster. Now the youngster is an 18-year-old. University cricket provides the platform for those who cross the under-19 limit but fall within the under-23 category. By reviving the quality of university cricket, we can identify more talent,” added Gaekwad.

BCCI took over the responsibility of conducting the Vizzy Trophy after the failure of the Association of Indian Universities to conduct competitions efficiently.

Kunal Chandela, who shone for Delhi in the current First Class season, was identified from the 2017 Vizzy Trophy.

Vizzy Trophy is said to be on the agenda of the Captains’ Conclave to be held in Delhi later this month.

“We will also invite women cricketers to discuss plans for the next season.

“We have advanced the dates of the Conclave because we needed time to discuss and implement the suggestions,” the Board official said.