While announcing the calendar for the forthcoming domestic season well in advance, the BCCI has omitted Duleep Trophy for 2015-16 season. According to a top BCCI executive, the inter-zonal first-class tournament has been left out for only one year.
"It is not cancelled or removed. It is deferred to the start of the next season," Dr MV Sridhar, general manager of cricket operations, BCCI, told ESPNcricinfo. "Since it has been decided to plan domestic calendar taking India's international calendar into consideration, it was decided that rather than overlapping the Duleep Trophy with the World Twenty20 in March, it would be apt to postpone it to the start of the 2016-17 season. Since India are set to play 16 Test matches in 2016-17, first-class cricket would get priority and the Duleep Trophy will be played at the start of the season."
For the last three domestic seasons, Duleep Trophy served as the season-opening tournament in October. But with the BCCI opting to advance the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy to avoid a clash with the Indian Premier League, the Duleep Trophy was dropped out of the calendar.
Whether cancelled, or removed or postponed, the fact remains that the BCCI has preferred to host one-day and T20 tournaments over the Duleep Trophy, which till early 2000s used to be India's premier selection tournament. With the Indian team starting to play international cricket virtually round-the-clock, the Duleep Trophy lost its shine and became a platform for fringe players to make a case for selection.
Duleep Trophy isn't the only tournament to have borne the brunt of BCCI's restructuring. The Deodhar Trophy will be played as a three-team tournament for the second season. The domestic one-day winning team will compete for the trophy against two teams chosen by the national selectors. It would mean that the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy is as good as scrapped. The last two editions of Challenger Trophy were played in the same format as the revised Deodhar Trophy.
Even in the past, the BCCI has scrapped domestic tournaments for a season or two. After staging the inaugural Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in 2006-07, the BCCI had not organised it for the next two years citing lack of a suitable slot in the calendar.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo