The first-class season for Delhi, like most other states, will kickoff with the domestic T20 tournament next week. Along with my peers, I am expecting the IPL teams to keep a close watch on the tournament. Good performances here might translate into a contract with a franchise and a chance to play in the coveted event.
Ideally, one would expect batsmen to hit big shots and innovate in the nets, and bowlers to hone their skills by bowling yorkers and slower ones. But a look at our practice session will prove you wrong. We’re still practicing in white clothes and with the red ball (the T20 tournament will be played in coloured clothing and with a white ball).
Most batsmen are still playing proper cricket — leaving the ball outside off-stump and trying to hit along the ground as much as possible. The bowlers are also doing what it takes to succeed in the longer version — bowling longer spells and maintaining an impeccable, teasing line just outside off-stump.
“Are we missing something?” you might wonder.
The fact is Ranji Trophy starts within a week after the T20 bash. While everyone understands the importance of bagging an IPL contract, the importance of performing in the longer format isn’t lost on the players. They know that to cement a place in the state side they must do well in the Ranji Trophy.
Admittedly, performances in T20 will be taken into consideration, but a player’s season is going to be judged by what he does in the longer format. Performances in the longer format are rewarded by selection to the zonal side for the Duleep and Deodhar Trophy.
Doing well here brings a player another step closer to realising his ultimate dream of playing for the country.
It will be a little tough to change gears immediately after the T20 tournament. One can’t be expected to slog everything for two/three weeks while preparing for the T20 matches and, then develop patience and temperament to succeed in Ranji Trophy overnight.
Ideally, the T20 tournament should have been held after the one-day matches, which are at the end of the first-class season and just before the IPL. But if this tournament were to be held before the season, it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to hold it at least two weeks prior to the start of the Ranji season. It would’ve given the players ample time to prepare for both formats.