Not everyone gets a trophy named after him. But Syed Mushtaq Ali did, and so did D. B. Deodhar and Duleepsinhji. They have contributed tremendously to the game of cricket. And what happens when the tournament becomes a mere formality, something that no one cares about. The disrespect that such things cause to these revered names is blasphemous.
Successive technical committees of the Board of Control for Cricket in India have fiddled with the formation of the Duleep Trophy to make it more meaningful and have failed. There are sentiments attached to the trophy and BCCI can’t just get rid of it. But what are sentiments to the players who are keen to enhance the bank balance. They have been opting out of the tournament mainly because it has been observed that performances in Duleep, Deodhar and Mushtaq Ali tournaments hardly matter for selection of the Indian team and IPL.
When Duleep Trophy began in 1960, the purpose was to get the best players from the zones to play against other zones. There used to be full houses for the matches between West and South zones. But with the plethora of tournaments, the priorities of players have changed. Established cricketers play in these tournaments only when they are out of the Indian team.
When the T20 Mushtaq Ali inter-state tournament was launched it was meant for the IPL franchises. But the list of players in these teams tells a different story. Players who weren’t even probables for the state teams have found themselves in IPL teams. And the genuine ones having the performance and experience are made to sit at home.
Another serious issue is that of bowlers with a suspect action. IPL being a BCCI tournament, the Board’s rules apply. Though the BCCI’s committee didn’t clear some blatant chuckers, one of the franchisees included them in the list. The names were dropped only after their captain was convinced that they indeed had suspect action.
This franchisee in fact played one of these chuckers — a left-arm medium pacer — in the IPL played in South Africa. Why was he picked again this time? Wasn’t the captain aware of his record or was he misled by his coach? Australia’s fast bowler Ian Meckiff who was debarred from international cricket for his suspect action in 60’s looked an angel compared to this left-arm bowler.
The suspect action process is a big farce. Initially, the bowlers used to be sent to NCA for rectification. The responsibility is now entrusted with the state association’s academy. Not knowing the proper method to rectify chucking, the bowlers are seen back in the domestic circuit within a season.
This is a big issue concerning the standard of bowling in India in the long run. The BCCI is unwilling to divulge the names and number of bowlers reported for suspect action. Something needs to be learnt from the recent Sheffield Shield final when a week back a young Queensland seamer Cameron Gannon was immediately sent for biomechanical testing after being reported for suspect action by the umpires.
The number of chuckers in Indian cricket is growing every year. What should the umpires do; keep reporting bowlers one after the other only to see them back in the team in no time? Won't they feel disrespected? Why have Srinivas Venkatraghvan to head the committee of suspect bowling actions if bowlers are allowed to play with same action?