Aakash Chopra

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Former India opener Aakash Chopra is one of the best thinkers and writers on the game. Find out more at www.cricketaakash.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @cricketaakash

Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy – serving no purpose

BCCI has been meticulous enough in planning its string of first class tournaments - while the Ranji Trophy determines the best state side; it also throws in new talent that can last five day games. The Duleep Trophy is meant to take the standard a notch higher, for the best performers in the four zones compete against each other.


Irani trophy has immense historic value for being the curtain raiser of the domestic season and also for testing the defending champions. The fifty-over Vijay Hazare trophy is supposed to unearth talent good at the shorter format. While the Deodhar and NKP Salve trophy, like Duleep and Irani trophy showcase the best flair in the country.


Logically then, the selections to the national team, in most cases, is done on the basis of the performances in these prestigious domestic tournaments.


In the midst of such impressive tournaments, there's one that isn't serving much purpose, or so it seems. How would it if its league phase, quite oddly, is played in October and the knockouts in March/April, a good six months later?


Yes, I'm talking about the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy-the official national domestic T20 tournament featuring as many as ten matches a day, for a week, and involving as many as 27 teams. Both the timing and the purpose of this tournament defy logic.


What's the point of honing skills required to succeed in T20 cricket a week before the 4-day Ranji trophy kicks-off? More importantly what's the point of acquiring those skills if they must be abandoned for a good six months? And how is it possible for the five national selectors to be present in most games, since there're far too many matches happening at the same time.


Besides, performances in this tournament may not be counted for further selections - it would be silly to select players for ODI or Test matches on the basis of T20 exploits.


Anyway, even the selection of the national T20 team is influenced more by the IPL and not the performances in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy. More, the domestic T20 champions aren't even recognized as the national champions - they don't get to participate in the Champions League.


So, the only purpose this T20 tournament serves, besides crowding the domestic calendar, is to help the IPL franchisees spot the talent they might find useful. Even if the selectors fail to attend all the matches, IPL scouts (since they're more in numbers) make themselves available for most games.


If the sole purpose of this tournament is to assist the IPL franchisees, it won't be a bad idea to let the IPL franchisees run the show. How about asking them to conduct trials, make up the team from their catchment area and also conduct these matches under lights in the night? This would not only allow them to take ownership of the talent they're eventually going to sign but also make them give something back to the domestic set-up.


At the moment, the IPL franchisees are feeding on the talent provided by the BCCI. This new arrangement may encourage them to unearth some fresh talent and also remain active throughout the year and not just during the 45 days extravaganza.

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