Mumbai: Due to the packed schedule of domestic and international cricket, the more than half a century-old Duleep Trophy inter-zonal competition has been given a break for the first time since its inception by the Cricket Board for the upcoming season.
The BCCI’s 2015-16 domestic calendar, released today by the Board which boasted in the media release that it will host 900 matches in the span of six months starting October 1, has discarded for the first time the inter-zonal competition after it was started in 1961-62.
The tournament had been conducted to perpetuate the memory of K S Duleepsinhji, nephew of K S Ranjitsinhji in whose memory the national cricket championship is being played. It’s not clear whether the tournament, which since its inception had served as a virtual selection trial to pick the Indian teams for home and away Test rubbers in days gone by, will be resurrected in the next 2016-17 season.
The BCCI release is totally silent about the axing of such a prestigious tournament in the upcoming season. Even the BCCI, in its Statistical Annual that has now been discontinued, mentions the importance of Duleep Trophy by stating that it “serves as a useful guide to the form of cricketers when a Test side for a domestic series has to be selected or a team for an overseas tour is to be chosen.” A prime example of someone who benefited by doing well in the tournament is Ajit Wadekar, under whose captaincy India made history by winning their first-ever Test series in 1971 in the West Indies and England successively.
The stylish left hander was picked as one of the probables for the first time against the visiting Gary Sobers-led West Indies side after his classy century (103) for West Zone in the 1966-67 final against South Zone – led by M L Jaisimha with then India skipper Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi playing under him – at the Brabourne Stadium here.