Irani Trophy 2012 September 24, 2012

What's the point of the Irani Cup?

With one-sided matches in recent times, a tight domestic calender and more India A tours, the Irani Cup seems to have lost its context

The Irani Cup's slide towards irrelevance continued with a four-day thrashing of the Ranji champions at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. It didn't need an expert to predict how this match would pan out: Rest of India comprehensively dominated a Rajasthan side that lacked firepower in both batting and bowling to compete.

"This time I am pretty happy with the way we have faced the Rest of India," Rajasthan captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar said, despite the innings-and-79-run mauling, highlighting the difference in quality between the two sides. "I think it gives us a slight advantage over other teams since we have already played one first-class game. I think we should be building up on that and not thinking about the result for Rest of India was definitely a stronger team."

While this year Rajasthan were hamstrung by the absence of four important players, including two on the concurrent India A tour of New Zealand, the Irani Cup has mostly been one-way traffic in recent times. Rajasthan were battered by 404 runs in the previous season, and even Mumbai, traditionally the pre-eminent team on the Indian domestic circuit, were pummelled by 361 runs in 2010. In the past 14 years, the winners of the Ranji Trophy have added the Irani Cup to their collection on only two occasions.

It wasn't always so lopsided. When the Irani Trophy was conceived in 1959-60, the domestic scene was ruled by an all-conquering Bombay team that was just beginning its run of 15 consecutive Ranji title wins.

Much of the cricketing talent in the following decades came from the big centres such as Bombay, Delhi and Karnataka. In recent years, talent isn't as concentrated in one state side, with players emerging from smaller towns all over the country. That has contributed to weaker Ranji winners, stronger Rest of India teams and fewer close contests.

The Irani Trophy was also once a stage for staking a claim for a national berth; it is unlikely performances in the tournament carry as much weight as before. Cashing in against the military-medium of Deepak Chahar and Aniket Choudhary hardly shows how well-equipped you are to face Stuart Broad and James Anderson. No one would bat an eyelid if you score a century; to have any sort of impact a gigantic effort is required, such as M Vijay's ten-hour 266.

The BCCI's added emphasis on A tours from this year also bring in series which will provide a better picture of a player's ability. The A team tour of the Caribbean earlier this year proved unproductive for several players who've built up enviable domestic records. One of them is Shikhar Dhawan, who plundered twin 150-plus in last year's Irani Cup, but only scratched out 30 runs at 7.50 against West Indies A.

Another reason which makes the Irani Trophy pointless is the mushrooming of Twenty20 tournaments, which have to be factored into the domestic calendar. While the IPL provides a strict marker for when the state-based tournaments must end, the Syed Mushtaq Ali and the Champions League Twenty20 have to be squeezed into prime domestic cricket time.

That has meant packing in matches as tightly as possible. Even as recently as 2004-05, players got, on an average, at least five days between each Ranji Trophy first-class match. Last year, it was down to three, as the teams raced through the Ranji season. With the new three-tier system, every team will play more first-class matches - a welcome development - but it tightens the calendar further.

The context-free match, with the Rest of India having assembled for just a week, didn't even serve as a lead-up to the first-class season for the Ranji champions, and has passed its use-by-date.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vimal on September 26, 2012, 9:16 GMT


    A tournament/tour is an opportunity for youngsters to showcase the talent. Instead of 2/3 months of IPL players would develop more by playing in more 3 - 5 day tournaments.

    Rather than questioning the point of Irani cup, you are better of questing our wise men why many of the ROI players are not touring NZ? India always had problems touring seaming/swining overseas tours.

    The team to NZ should have been picked from the probable list of

    M Vijay, U Chand, Rahane, CA Pujara, Badri, Bist, Rayudu, Karthik, Mandeep, Saha, I sharma, Aaron, U Yadav, S Ahmed, P Kumar, Ojha, R Sharma and Harmeet Singh

  • Mohit on September 25, 2012, 17:48 GMT

    India if it needs quality bowlers and batters a complete overhaul of domestic structure is required. Fast bowlers and spinners need to be nurtured by BCCI after identifying talent. I say identify 3 bowlers every year and make sure these bowlers get chance to play abroad as well as Ranji matches to ensure their exposure. Besides make it compulsory to attend 5 day bowling camp every month and get trained from glen mcgrath and kumble on regular basis. In 3 years time this sgould give us a good pool of bowlers

  • HNL on September 25, 2012, 9:08 GMT

    I think some of these matches should be scrapped immediately as they have become meaningless and increasingly irrelevant with most players, including under 19's getting lots of international exposure nowadays, thanks to World Cup, India A team tours, etc.. Only Ranji Trophy should be retained, as it gives repeat chances to play in the 3-day to 5-day format.

  • Dummy4 on September 25, 2012, 8:50 GMT

    Irani Trophy was a good idea when it was implemented in 1959-60 since there was no match for Bombay team during those days. Since, the quallity of Cricket has improved over the 4 decades, the quality of Ranji Trophy itself has lost relevance since only individual contributions from players like Bist from Rajasthan,Sreesanth from Kerala, Dhoni from Jharkhand or A Rahane from the outskirts of Mumbai. Time has come to restructure the same tournament in such a manner that the Duleep Trophy Champion instead of the Ranji Trophy Champion plays the Rest of India in such a way that the best players of one zone play the rest of the players from the other 4 zones or corners of India. In this way, an imbalance between the two sides can be mininimised to a great extent. Duleep Trophy can also be made more competitive if all the 27 State teams have their own assoication grounds which is being encouraged by the BCCI for teams like Saurashtra, HP,Jharkhand and Pune who are going to host their 1st ODIs

  • Ravi on September 25, 2012, 8:13 GMT

    IRANI TROPHY, DULEEP TROPHY, RANJI TROPHY quarter finals onwards are all important matches for young upcoming players. Just to bring in an international fervour to these matches some of the team members the BCCI should be able get the services of international players. If the Rajasthan Royals ere to be held responsible for unearthing talent then their contribution to Rajasthan team during the Irani Trophy would have helped make the Irani Trophy competitive. Likewise other teams contributing to ROI, Zonal teams for Duleep Trophy and State teams for Ranji trophy.

  • anu on September 25, 2012, 7:59 GMT

    the point is it tests the Ranji champions against the best in the country..Rajastahn did beocme Ranji chmapions....didn't they ?...fair and they do desrve a shot at ROI in the glorious tradition of India FC cricket...what went wrong for Rajasthan that it turned out to be so one sided is what you should ask?.the answer...rajasthan is not a side with great depth in their cricket...but a collection of about 7 or 8 hardworking and about 3 or 4 talented guys and all 11 pulling their weight most of the time.....their two top seamers.......Rituraj and Pankaj singh weren't availbale one on Ind-A duty and otehr probably injured.......and their Top Batsman Menaria also turning out in India-A colors..and Chopra moved to HP...and they were caught out of depth.... You could give less credit to Vijay's score( but not zilch it)...but do credit Bisht for his 100 and 67 scores against a high quality pace and spin attack of ROI

  • Saimon on September 25, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    With month-long useless tournaments like SLPL and annual boredom of a series that's India vs SL, what harm can a 5 day match do? At least the guys get to practice cricket at a competitive level. Isn't that better than net sessions?

  • Sony on September 25, 2012, 7:20 GMT

    remove irani trophy and duleep trophy from calendar and concentrate more on a team tours. these guys are playing enough matches in indian conditions in ranji trophy. what they need is foreign exposure which a team tours can only give.

  • VISWANATHAN on September 25, 2012, 7:13 GMT

    As many as 10 tournaments are being played under BCCI which are * Irani Trophy * Ranji Trophy * Duleep Trophy * NKP Salve Challenger Trophy * Vijay Hazare Trophy- * Deodhar Trophy * BCCI Corporate Trophy * Inter-State T20 Championship * Indian Premier League * Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy

    What BCCI needs to do are

    1. One tournament each in 3 different format.( Ranji trophy/one ODI tournament/IPL for T20) 2. Reduce number of teams to 16. 3. Re-organise afflicated associations ( like Gujarat/Maharastra have 7 assoication with in these 2 states). 4. Player transfer window to be more transperent with out bias. 5. Prepare fair wickets with bunce, pace and spin. 6. Ensure all Indian players participate during domestic calander like IPL. 7. Indian Seniors and A team tour can co exist but not during doemstic window. 8. Four months of Domestic cricket including IPL and 8 months of international cricket including champions Leage.

    BCCI won't listen.

  • Dummy4 on September 25, 2012, 6:58 GMT

    2/14 now that really sucks...vijay 266 is irrevalant...against such a poor quallty bowling.....that is why some of the guyz in the domestic cricket have an avg of 50 plus...these are the following players....vijay,dhawan,rohit sharma...

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