Ranji season having ended, there is no interest in the cricket event

Knocking out the interest at the fag end of the season! Well, this is the general impression one gets at the way the premier three-day event for Hyderabad cricket – A-Division (three-day) knock-out is scheduled from February 29 to March 12. For the record, this is exclusively for the 12 elite teams of HCA.

Just consider this: Ensconse could not field a team since it had only eight players available. Andhra Bank requested postponement as the team has to play in Mumbai in an event. R. Dayanand XI which depends on ‘outstation' recruits could not get them on time for different reasons. MP Colts opted for a walk-over since many of its players were preparing for exams.

It is not just the bad timing but even the way the teams are treating this championship with such disdain that is inviting widespread criticism. “We don't understand the logic of hosting this three-day event when the Ranji season has ended and even the Hyderabad squad for the All India Vijay Hazare Trophy tournament in New Delhi was picked last week itself,” says a captain of one of the teams.

Ironically, of the four matches scheduled in the first round, there were three walk-overs -- from MP Colts, Ensconse and R. Dayanand XI. Worse, the two matches that started off were converted into one-dayers as per the “teams' convenience”.

“We were told to complete it by scheduling the draw despite pointing out that not many teams are willing to compete,” says an official.

In private, the HCA officials admit that the event should have been held just before the Ranji season to give the players a chance to perform and stake their claim for Hyderabad selection. “But there were no grounds available then because of the BCCI under-19 and under-16 matches. This tournament has to be played on turf wickets only,” argues HCA joint secretary S. Venkateshwaran.

Interestingly, the big bosses in the HCA treat this three-day event more of a formality since the elections are round the corner.

“We don't want to face any embarrassing questions by not hosting it. If the teams don't take part it is their headache,” says another HCA official.

Reduced to a farce

Ironically, when everyone in the HCA was aware of this awkward situation cropping up, why did the top brass go ahead with this event and reduce it to a farce, ask many old-timers.