India’s domestic tournaments are named after some of the greatest names in Indian cricket, be it players or administrators.
The Vijay Hazare Trophy is one such tournament, even though the great man himself perhaps never played in a fifty-over competition.
Sure, at the club level he may have played limited- overs tournaments but definitely not at the first-class level. It was good to see the turnout of so many of India’s players, who, despite having played in the Asia Cup last week and having a few days off before embarking for the ICC World Twenty20, opted to participate in the event.
It could well have been the fact that they had been knocked out before the Asia Cup final and they themselves had not done much over the last few trips that made them play in the tournament.
Be that as it may, it did add greatly to the value of the tournament and also showed respect for a great departed cricketer.
Knowing how limited the knowledge of our current players is about former cricketers, it was a real feel-good factor to see them turning up for their various states.
Mohammed Shami, in particular, deserves special applause for he has been playing non-stop since October when he made his debut for India and has been bowling in all kinds of conditions.
Prior to this season, he may not have bowled even a quarter of the overs that he has bowled in the last few months since his debut, and that’s why all the more reason to appreciate his turning up and, more importantly, bowling beautifully.
He didn’t just turn up and bowl a few cursory deliveries but bowled with fire and determination and won a game for his team which did not have a huge total to defend.
He did say that he prefers to play rather than rest, as he would then get rusty and would take some time to recapture the rhythm, and so thought he was better off playing than putting his feet up at home.
This, of course, is his first year in international cricket and so far he looks unspoilt, and hopefully he will not get influenced by those others who would tell him to rest and take it easy. He will know himself when his body needs a rest and a breather and does not have to listen to others nor get swayed by what they may be doing.
Unfortunately, too many of our internationals forget that it is the domestic tournaments that have got them into the international stage and made them the stars they are, so even though they may not actually need a rest, they will avoid playing for their states in the domestic competitions.
At times, it is for frivolous reasons like the match being in a city where there may not be fivestar hotels and travel to the city may not necessarily be by air.
Some others have commercial commitments to fulfil and so say they are tired and need a break. The thing is that cricket is a great leveller, not just on the field but also off it, and if you don’t treat it with respect, it can and does come back and bite where it hurts.
India are in Dhaka again for the ICC World Twenty20, and playing in familiar conditions they have a real chance of repeating what they did in their first ICC World Twenty20 which they won in South Africa way back in 2007.
At that stage, they had little or no experience of playing in the format but played such instinctive and bold cricket that they swept to a terrific win that got them a tickertape reception on their arrival in Mumbai.
Now, the India players are perhaps the most experienced in the ultra- short format because of the number of matches they play in the IPL. Of course, the Australians may also be as experienced since they have the Big Bash, and with the Caribbean Premier League taking place last year even the Windies have lots of experience in the format.
Australia have never won this event and so will be very keen to get it right this time.
They have been in awesome form, and with the confidence of that as well as having just played two T20 games against South Africa, they will get to Dhaka much better prepared.