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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Duleep Trophy history ~ Brian Lara implores !!

I love Cricket but could not digest the speech of lamentation attacking his own Nation and the once famous players ~ coming as it did from a person who once made 400* in a Test; 501* in a First class match.  In all he made 11953 test runs in 131 matches and 10405 runs in One dayers !!

Nawanagar was an Indian princely state in the  region of Kathiawar, located on the southern shores of the Gulf of Kutch. It was ruled by the Jadeja dynasty until 1948 when it became a part of newly formed India. The district is now known as Jamnagar.  Its rulers were the mighty  Hindu Rajputs.  From here came the famous cricketer and ruler - Jam Saheb Ranjitsinhji after whom the premier Cricket tournament is named.  There is another domestic tournament – the Duleep Trophy, earlier a prestigious one played  between teams representing geographical zones of India [ 5 : South; North; West; East and Central].  Named after Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji of Nawanagar (also known as "Duleep") – for long was the platform for National selection.   The competition was started by the Board of Control for Cricket in India in the 1961–62 season. The inaugural tournament was won by West Zone who defeated South Zone in the final by 10 wickets.

Remember seeing that 4 day match in Dec 1975 at Chepauk ~ Duleep Trophy finals whence South Zone beat North by 37 runs.  South opened with Roger Binny and Krishnaswami, followed by Dalvi, Gundappa Viswanath, Brijesh Patel (scored 105), sudhakar Rao, Abid ali, Krimani, Captain S Venkatraghavan, Erapalli Prasanna and BS Chandrasekhar. – made 390.  Rajinder Goel had figures of 52.2-20-98-7.  The formidable North impressive lineup read: Chetan Chauhan, Venkat Sunderam, Surinder Amarnath(122),H Gidwani, Mohinder Amarnath, Vinay Lamba, S Madanlal, Rajiv Shukla, Goel, Capt BS Bedi & keeper Inderjit Singh. NZ made 291.  Chandra took 5 for 70.  In the 2nd South were bundled for 134 with Bedi and Goel taking 5 wickets each. Chasing a target of 234 North could muster only 196.  Venkat took 5 wickets. 

From a premier tournament catapulting players to National honours, Duleep Trophy has gradually steeped towards insignificance. The 2013-14 final was washed out with just a handful of overs bowled because of incessant rain and a wet outfield.  Do you know or follow that the domestic season starts now in India, thanks to Sourav Ganguly, the head of BCCI's technical committee, who intervened after the tournament was initially scrapped.

With India's top players, many of whom would have just returned from Sri Lanka on Thursday, set to be engaged in a limited-overs series against Australia starting September 17, the objective of continuing to trial with the pink ball isn't well-served. In addition, New Zealand A's tour of India for two four-day games and four one-day games from the third week of September could further deplete the tournament, given many of the players picked for the Duleep Trophy could be in contention to feature in the A matches to be played in Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam.

Sad indeed ! ~ and more saddened reading this piece of Brian Lara, whose impressive statistics you read in first para. Brian Lara has implored the top sides in world cricket "to ensure that the integrity of the game is upheld" and admitted there were times he was "truly embarrassed" by the behaviour of the West Indies side he represented.

Lara, delivering the MCC Spirt of Cricket Cowdrey lecture at Lord's, not only called on batsmen to "walk" but suggested the leading sides had a responsibility to "show the way and lead the way" in which the game is played. And, despite the outstanding record of the West Indies sides of the 1980s and early 1990s, Lara felt there were occasions when the tactics they employed resulted in them "playing the game in a way it should never, ever be played." In particular, Lara raised the notorious series against New Zealand in 1980, when Colin Croft shoulder-barged an umpire and Michael Holding kicked over the stumps in frustration, and two series (against Pakistan in 1988 and England in 1990) when he suggested West Indies employed a certain amount of gamesmanship to win at any cost.

"I grew up at a time when West Indies dominated the world. For 15 years from 1980, the West Indies never lost a Test series. Despite it being a period when people in the Caribbean were "accustomed to victory after victory," Lara suggested it was a time he was "not very proud of". He confessed to being "embarrassed" when a series of umpiring decisions helped West Indies overcome Pakistan in 1988. In particular, he felt Viv Richards was fortunate to survive a leg before appeal against Imran Khan and Jeffrey Dujon fortune to survive an appeal for a catch off Abdul Qadir. Lara referred to events in the 1990 series against England as "disturbing" and suggested that seeing his heroes behave in such a manner was "one of the saddest moments in the world".

"I had never seen groundsmen and officials fight for Man of the Match. They moved lethargic, slow. If there was a wet spot someone went off the field, they came back with nothing in their hands, they took their time to ensure this game was not going to start any time soon. "Eventually, it started with a couple of hours to go and England still had time. We bowled, in one hour, seven overs. It was dark and Graham Gooch had to call his troops from the field and West Indies grabbed a draw. "This is maybe the most embarrassing moment for me as a young West Indian, watching a West Indies team time-wasting, playing the game in a way it should never, ever be played. "I was 12th man. I was very, very guilty. I was running out with laces, a banana, water, cough tablets, all sorts of things in that last hour. It was truly embarrassing.

"People talk about the Test series we lost in 1995 as the time we began to spiral," Lara said. "I felt we started to spiral years before that when the great players were playing. "And if Pakistan or England got what they deserved in 1988 and 1990, I feel the West Indies officials would have taken a different look into what to do to save West Indies cricket at a time we had senior players who could have guided the younger players to have ensured we were on the right footing. But that didn't happen."

It is easier to sermonize now and talk badly of one’s own Nation, which ruled the Cricket World unparalleled for a couple of decade !!  In response, former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding has said that he has never been interested in the opinions stated by Brian Lara. Responding to the criticism of his conduct during West Indies’ 1980 tour of New Zealand Holding, while speaking at the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey lecture said, “I am not interested in whatever Brian Lara says. Never was, never will be.”

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

6th Sept. 2017.

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