Like pink... red, blue, green must go too!

Updated: Aug 07, 2019, 08:11 IST | Clayton Murzello

BCCI discontinues pink-ball experiment in Duleep Trophy, but have 'coloured' teams again which could've been replaced with squads named after ex-greats

Like pink... red, blue, green must go too!
India Green captain Suresh Raina (right) examines the pink ball as wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel looks on during a Duleep Trophy match against India Red at Greater Noida in 2016. Pic /AFP

The Duleep Trophy used to be a major event on the Indian cricket calendar, one that tested the mettle of cricketers at the zonal level. Not anymore. In recent years, the significance of the 58-year-old tournament has faded significantly and the BCCI's decision to use it as an experiment for pink-ball cricket from 2016 did not strike a chord with the masses.

Yesterday, former India stumper Syed Saba Karim, the BCCI's GM (Cricket Operations), told PTI that the tournament will not be played with the pink ball this year.

"We have floodlights at the Chinnaswamy [Bangalore] but we are not playing with pink ball under lights as there is no live coverage. Only the final match [September 5-9] will be a day/night affair as that's the only match to be aired live," Karim was quoted as saying.

An unnamed official told the news agency that there was no point in playing domestic cricket with the pink ball since India are not scheduled to play with the innovation during the World Test Championship.

Continuing with pink-ball matches would be farcical since India have indicated in good measure that they are not interested in this crowd-pulling effort for the traditional form of the game.

Make it relevant

However, what is puzzling is the decision to play the only the final under lights. What purpose is it going to serve except to expect a television audience in the midst of an overdose of cricket, one wonders. While one hopes there is some interest generated, the BCCI will do well to work out ways to make the Duleep Trophy relevant again.

For starters, how about naming teams after great performers in the tournament instead of Blue, Green and Red, colours that are best suited for intra-school events.

Kailash Gattani, the former Rajasthan Ranji Trophy pacer, who was most unfortunate not to play for India, felt that teams bearing names of the greats is a good suggestion, but rued the lack of a sense of belonging with such team combinations. "I can't see any attachment with teams like these. The Duleep Trophy must be played amongst the zones like the old days. You felt proud to represent your zone just as you were while wearing your state colours," said Gattani from Pune. He claimed 56 wickets in 18 matches played across 1965 and 1978.

That 1972 game

Gattani was part of Hanumant Singh's Central Zone team which beat West Zone in the final at Bangalore in 1972. "I remember the fine knock Salim Durrani [83 not out] played to help us win [by two wickets] and we put on an undefeated stand of 44 [Gattani not out 11) for the ninth wicket," he recalled.
Former national selector Sanjay Jagdale, who played for Madhya Pradesh and Central Zone, welcomed the idea of naming teams after past greats as long as there would be no controversy over the selection of names.

Like Gattani, the 1971-72 final against West Zone stood out in memory. Jagdale related a fascinating story about him being stationed at fine leg or third man until West Zone openers Sunil Gavaskar and Ramnath Parkar walked into bat in the second innings towards the end of the second day. "This time, Hanumant asked me to field at gully. Sunil slashed at one in Kailash's first over and I dived to my left to pull off a one-handed catch. In the next over, my brother Ashok had Ramnath caught and bowled.

"When both teams returned to the Bangalore International Hotel later that evening, Sunil asked me, 'Do you know who told Hanumant to place you at gully? Me. I told him he is wasting you in the deep.' Sunil doesn't remember this incident and I can't blame him because he has played so much cricket," Jadgale remarked.

Jagdale, 68, featured in the same Indian Universities side as Gavaskar and also played against him in Indore v Bombay University games during the 1960s.

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