Indian domestic news May 20, 2010

BCCI keen on restoration of Vizzy Trophy

The BCCI and the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) are working on a plan to restore the Vizzy Trophy, the annual inter-zonal university tournament, to the position of eminence it held till a few years ago. The tournament was a prominent listing on the cricket calendar before the turn of the millennium and to restore it to that status, the board is planning to take the help of the state associations where the event is played.

"We have asked the AIU to organize the tournament in close association with the home associations," Ratnakar Shetty, the BCCI's chief administrative officer, told Cricinfo. The event, till now, was conducted by the AIU - a member of the BCCI - for a fixed amount in funding. There have been recent reports of differences over the money, prompting the board to suggest asking the staging university to hold the tournament in alliance with the home state association.

"The [staging] universities can't fund so much on their own, so if you are in partnership with the state association, it would help matters run smoothly. The state association can then claim the required reimbursements from the board," Shetty said.

Unfortunately it hasn't been a straightforward issue and in recent years the AIU has sought an additional Rs. 2 lakh (approximately $4500) as administrative expenses. "Administrative charges have always been given to the AIU," Gurbir Singh, the AIU's under-secretary, said. "But the board in the last years has been reluctant."

It's a point disputed by the BCCI. "What the AIU wants is we pay everything to them. That is the problem. The BCCI wants the players to utilize the best of the facilities, including the umpires, ground and nets," Shetty said.

That dispute now seems to be over, with Singh saying the AIU was willing to join hands with the states to organise the event - provided the board pays them the administrative charges.

The BCCI needs the AIU's co-operation if it wants to run the event - as head of the federation of Indian universities the AIU owns the rights of players even if the tournament is a BCCI property. "The doors are open from both sides and we can always negotiate," Singh said.

Shetty was equally receptive: "If they had a problem they should come to us. You have to produce the relevant documents and we can work things out," he said.

The tournament was named after former president of the board, the Maharajah of Vizianagaram, universally known as Vizzy. It started in 1966-67 as a viable platform for the country's youth to impress on the selectors their potential. It was to be hosted by the AIU and funded by the BCCI with the primary motive being to promote college and university cricket. But in the last two decades its popularity has waned. Sanjay Manjrekar was the last prominent Test cricketer to come out of the university ranks when he scored four consecutive hundreds.

A combined universities team used to be picked based on the Vizzy Trophy performances, that would play a practice game against touring sides in the days when there was more than one practice game. With the international calendar becoming more crowded and tour schedules more hectic, practice games are down to one per tour - mostly featuring the Board President's XI - or done away with altogether. Shetty, though, says the board will continue to promote the event because it helps develop grassroots cricket.

"We are absolutely not scrapping the Vizzy Trophy," he said.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo