Invitational tournaments are valuable for cricketers
By Hrishikesh Kanitkar | CricketNext
17th August 2012 02:37 PM
Since recovering from cancer, Yuvraj Singh has been making sure and steady progress to full fitness at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore to prepare for ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. With the domestic first-class season ending in May and the next one starting in November, how is it possible for him to get proper match practice to prepare for a World Cup recall?
In a recent interview he said that he was planning to play in a tournament in one of the southern states of India as preparation to gain match fitness for September's World Twenty20. What are these tournaments that Yuvi is referring to, that will help him gain valuable match practice? And since these tournaments are not deemed as having first-class status, will the quality of opposition be good enough for a player of his caliber? These questions are sure to cross the minds of fans of the left-hand batsman. It's a known fact that once the monsoons start there is not much cricketing activity that takes place in India, save a few rainy season tournaments conducted locally in various cities.
Yuvraj is talking about are the three tournaments that are held in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Hyderabad, respectively, from the end of July until mid-September. This part of the cricket season is kick-started with the commencement of the Dell-KSCA Safi Darashah Trophy held in Bangalore and Mysore between the period of July end to mid-August. This is an initiative taken by the Karnataka State Cricket Association.
This tournament is followed by the All India Buchi Babu Tournament organized by the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association in Chennai which goes until the beginning of September. On the completion of the Buchi Babu tournament, the Hyderabad Cricket Association conducts the HCA Coramandal King All India Moin-ud-Dawla Gold Cup Invitation Cricket Tournament in Hyderabad.
These tournaments have been serving Indian cricket well for a number of years now. They play a very unique role in the domestic cricket calendar. Firstly, all these tournaments are invitation tournaments so the conducting association can choose which teams they want to invite to participate. A good mix of strong and upcoming teams is invited, thereby ensuring a great mix of talent and experience which in turn assures strong oppositions. This is the reason players of the caliber of Yuvraj look to play as they know that the teams they play against will have top Ranji and international players in them.
In this year's recently concluded KSCA Trophy, players like Robin Utthapa, Dhawal Kulkarni, Abhishek Nayar, Deepak Chahar and Vineet Saxena, to name a few, represented their respective states. VVS Laxman turned up for Hyderabad and scored a century against a KSCA team. Competing against such quality opponents will help Yuvi ease himself back into the cricketing fold and serve as great preparation for bigger things.
The benefits of these tournaments are not just confined to individual players looking to make a comeback and play for the country. In fact, a lot of the state associations that are invited look at these tournaments as ideal preparation for the upcoming Ranji Trophy season. Most associations conduct training camps for their players around the period of June and July with a view to getting them match fit by the time the Ranji Trophy begins. This is also the time when associations sign up their pro players. These tournaments are a great opportunity for the professionals, who are from other states, to get to know their team-mates with whom they would be sharing their dressing rooms for the duration of the first-class season.
The home associations typically field two to three sides with a mix of young talent and experience. This way most of their players gain valuable exposure to other quality teams from all over the country.
For a coach, the opportunities that these tournaments present are invaluable. The ideal way to judge a player is in competition. A match throws up various scenarios in front of a player without any warning and asks him to deal with them instinctively. A player who can keep calm under pressure stands out during such times. This makes it easy for a coach to spot which of his players have the qualities required to succeed and who may fold under match pressure.
With the Ranji season still a couple of months away after the tournaments finish, the coach has enough time to work with individuals on their specific areas of improvement. These tournaments also are a good place to sort out team combinations and can be used to build team ethics and team values so that by the time the actual season starts the players are match ready.
Due credit should be given to the state associations of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Hyderabad for doing such a fantastic job by conducting such quality tournaments every year where the cricket is of the highest standard and where winning the trophy is a matter of great pride and accomplishment.
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