The timing of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, a domestic Twenty20 tourney, two months after the IPL auctions broke an old practice. In the past, many talent scouts have assessed the IPL pedigree of Indian youngsters through this tournament. India international Jasprit Bumrah was one such find.

The BCCI’s technical and fixtures committee had been scheduling the tournament before the auction for three years. That couldn’t happen this season. The entry of nine new teams in the domestic calendar and the absence of an IPL Governing Council in December, 2018, perhaps complicated the process.

When the tournament started, the franchises had already picked their respective players. Sandeep Warrier going to Kolkata Knight Riders this week has been a one-off wildcard entry.

From an analyst

KKR analyst and scout A. R. Srikkanth argues that the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy isn’t the only platform to choose players. “First of all, [the] Syed Mushtaq Ali [Trophy] isn’t the only tournament that acts as the breeding ground for any IPL matches. We do our homework and we don’t depend on that tournament. It is not that a new player will emerge from a Syed Mushtaq Ali [Trophy] and they are going to be picked right away. Even if he is picked, he won’t be a first XI player,” he tells Sportstar .

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Srikkanth breaks it down: “It depends on what you are looking to achieve from the auction and the kind of skill-sets you are looking at. We are looking at tournaments, every single game, that is being played around India and across the world on a regular basis. We assess players according to their skill-sets and according to the needs of the team.”

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Being a World Cup year, the overseas players are not likely to be available for the entire tournament, which will open up avenues for Indian domestic players. “The quality of domestic players is what makes a team, rather than overseas players. It is not like any new talent is going to emerge out of one tournament and he is going to be a world-beater. Whatever talent has been showcased, people can see that. Everyone knows the talent available in the market,” he adds.

From a player

Irfan Pathan, the India international, who featured in this edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy for Jammu and Kashmir, agrees that it should have ideally been held before the auction.

“When [the Syed] Mushtaq Ali Trophy happens before the auctions, it’s always better because it keeps the players thinking about the auction. They have a better opportunity to get picked. Even franchises have an opportunity to see newer talents who they might not have thought of,” Pathan reasons.

“The franchises may send scouts for Ranji Trophy and local league matches but [the Syed] Mushtaq Ali [Trophy] is like a feeder to the IPL, so it is always better that it happens before the players go under the hammer.


Irfan Pathan: “[The Syed] Mushtaq Ali [Trophy] is like a feeder to the IPL, so it is always better that it happens before the players go under the hammer.” Photo: V. V. S. Subrahmanyam


“This is the first time the BCCI has to manage so many new teams (the Northeastern States, Bihar and Uttarakhand) which was not easy to handle. I don’t think any other first-class cricketing circuit has so many teams. In the future, the Board might have to do something about it,” he adds.

Even though the tournament had a late start, Pathan is confident it will benefit the young players. “It’s still the highest T20 tournament of [the] domestic circuit and the selectors do keep an eye on the talents. So there’s [a] lot to play for.” Pathan points out.

From an expert

Former India wicketkeeper-batsman Deep Dasgupta, who has been part of the TV commentary panel in the domestic season, is also surprised that IPL won’t have young players such as Rohan Kadam (Karnataka) and Virat Singh (Jharkhand).

“I saw some really good players but when I figured out that they aren’t a part of an IPL setup, I was quite surprised. They would have clearly made a difference. Rohan is the highest-scorer of the tournament and he doesn’t have an IPL side to play for. Naushad Shaikh (Maharashtra) has been impressive. They all have been good batters to dominate the format,” says Dasgupta.

Karnataka won the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy on Thursday, and strangely, only four players out of the winning XI have an IPL contract — Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Shreyas Gopal and Manish Pandey.