The Duleep Trophy is back in its traditional avatar and will be contested from Thursday in Tamil Nadu. Six teams – NorthEast Zone, North Zone, West Zone, East Zone, South Zone, and Central Zone – will take part in the competition that kickstarts India’s new domestic season.
Former India batter W. V. Raman looks ahead to the season in the latest episode of ‘Wednesdays with WV’. Welcoming the inter-zonal format of the Duleep Trophy, he said, “I think it’s good that it’s gone back to its original format which is what we all played i.e. inter-zonal matches.”
“If you look at the opportunities as far as the players are concerned, there will be a lot more players who will get to play the Duleep Trophy, if you’re talking about six zones taking part. There will be obviously 90 cricketers picked, whereas if there are three teams picked by the national selectors (in the other format), you’re talking about 45 players,” he pointed out.
Not only will it allow for better camaraderie between the players – members from the same zone tend to bond better with each other than members from other zones – but also test their temperament. As it is a knockout competition, players will have to be at their best to keep themselves and their team in the competition.
“As far as the zonal sides are concerned, all these sides would have grown up together, playing from the junior side, they come across each other for a longer period of time, playing academy matches or travelling to the neighbouring states to practise. They are prone to having a better understanding of the colleagues their team. It’s easy for boys to connect and fight together as a team,” says Raman.
Raman admits players will find it difficult to find their rhythm straightaway. Summing up the value of these tournaments for Indian cricket, he says, “What these kinds of tournaments will do is provide these selectors a platform to pick their bench strength and also focus on a few cricketers so they can be eased into the national side as and when required.”
And it’s helpful for the players in another way.
“A lot of players will get a chance to play. And they’ll also get a reward for their performances in the previous Ranji Trophy tournaments. And again, monetarily, if you’re looking at a lot of boys who play only domestic cricket as the main thing that they do in their lives, a lot of cricketers don’t get their IPL contracts, don’t get to play for their country. This is their only means of income. For them, this means more matches as well.
“So in terms of the financial angle, players would welcome this because they will get to play a lot more cricket. And that will help them. We have to understand that there are a lot of cricketers who play cricket and earn their bread, so it’s a great thing for them. The more matches they play, the more chances they get to display their talent. It is also a case of them making the money that will help them on a rainy day.”
|Quarter Final||North East Zone v West Zone||Chennai|
|Quarter Final||East Zone v North Zone||Puducherry|
|Semi Final||Central Zone v TBA||Coimbatore|
|Semi Final||South Zone v TBA||Salem|
|Final||TBA v TBA||Coimbatore|
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