When the Duleep Trophy was advanced to October this year — from the end of the domestic calendar to the beginning — the purpose was to ensure the selectors got an idea of the players' form to pick the squad for the international season ahead. It was also meant to help the players prepare better.
However, the change in scheduling has served no purpose. With most of the top players busy with the Champions League, the Duleep Trophy is hardly a tournament that gives a fair idea to the selectors.Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni, who are playing in South Africa for their respective IPL teams, together account for just one Test century over the past 13 Test matches India have played beginning with the disastrous tour to England in 2011.
With international cricket's top teams, England and Australia, set to tour India for eight Test matches later this winter, Duleep was the ideal platform for them to get back into form. However, Champions League T20 has spoiled it.
Former players aren't happy. But they don't want to blame the players.
“The BCCI has to be more selective. Why is Duleep clashing with the Champions League?” says Maninder Singh, a former India Test player.
Madan Lal, who was part of the 1983 World Cup winning team says, “The IPL teams have paid millions to buy these players. Why would they spare them? The BCCI is involved in scheduling both the CLT20 and its domestic season. It has to think.”
Former India opener Chetan Chauhan is also unhappy. “This was the ideal platform for top players to get back into form,” he says.
In the matches the Indian teams have played at the CLT20, Gambhir, Sehwag and Tendulkar have struggled to get going.
Maninder says it is hurting their confidence.
“All our top players getting out cheaply on those tracks is not helping their confidence. The forthcoming Test series is being held at home and that is why it was important for them to play here.”
Recently, Shane Watson was called back by Cricket Australia to join the national camp, curtailing his stint at the CLT20. It led to criticism from Stuart Clark, the head of the CLT20 side, Sydney Sixers. But the CA stuck to its guns.
“The Australian domestic season never suffers. I don't know why ours has to,” says Madan Lal.