BCCI's Corporate Trophy struggles to stay relevant
Hours before the first match of last year's BCCI Corporate Trophy, an event that seemed unnecessary in what was already a busy season, Rahul Dravid and other prominent figures in Indian cricket talked about the importance of the corporates. In a world before sponsorships, advertisements and IPL, it was these corporates that provided the players job security. This tournament was the BCCI's way of thanking the corporates for having supported the players who are now their assets.
A lacklustre inaugural event and a year later, the eve of the Corporate Trophy is in stark contrast. Two teams have already pulled out because the BCCI wouldn't pay for their accommodation. The India players have just returned from an arduous Sri Lanka tour and many of them are headed to South Africa for the obviously more important Champions League. Of the four teams that are to play in Bangalore, one had still not arrived as of this afternoon. ONGC, the one team with star players, trained at the Chinnaswamy Stadium's B ground and awaited their, well, star players.
The Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians rightly chose not to grant this tournament List A status, despite the BCCI's insistence.
This year's event, especially the Bangalore leg where six league matches will be played, could run into trouble with the weather. It has been raining everyday in Bangalore for quite some time now, and one of the two venues, the RSI Grounds, is not exactly known for its drainage facilities, or its equipment to ensure a quick start after rain.
Having said all that, for players such as Sreesanth and Gautam Gambhir, who are returning from injuries, this is an important tournament to prove their fitness before Australia arrive for a two-Test series. The Irani Cup, the traditional domestic season-starter, is scheduled to start on the same day as the first Test against Australia, which could be an irritant for the fringe players hoping to break into the Test squad through their domestic performances. The Corporate Trophy and the tour game against the Australians is all they have now. As for new players looking to announce themselves, the Corporate Trophy is not the stage: not many will be watching.
Originally four groups of four teams each. Since two teams have pulled out, it is now two groups of four teams each and two groups of three teams each. The winner of each group through round-robin makes it to the semi-final.
A - Matches in Visakhapatnam
India Cements, State Bank of Hyderabad, All India Electricity Board
B - Matches in Chennai
Tata Sports Club, IOC, BPCL
C - Matches in Hyderabad
Air India, BPCL, Chemplast, State Bank of Mysore
D - Matches in Bangalore
ONGC, MRF, State Bank of Patiala, Income Tax
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo