The tournament that was specially created to coax public and private sector to provide jobs for cricketers is on the brink of being terminated due to scheduling hiccups and lack of interest in the fans. The Corporate Trophy, which was established in 2009, has been scrapped by the Indian cricket board for the second consecutive year due to lack of time in between the Indian board’s premium international and domestic tournaments.
If the interest in fans in this TRP age is an indicator then it can’t be disputed that the Corporate Trophy has lost its relevance but its significance lies beyond the television screens.
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The best defense of this tournament came from Raju Sharma, the coach of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), which won the last edition of the tournament held two years ago.
“The AG offers jobs to nearly 250-300 cricketers every year but now the numbers have gone down to 80-90. It’s a big issue, which BCCI should look in to. How many will play for India? Only 11odd. But there are 11 millions who are jobless. Because of this tournament not only the public sector but the private sector too have started giving jobs. Tell me why shall a company spend Rs 40,000 monthly on a cricketer now? They’ll say let’s just hire them on contract for a mere Rs 4000.”
CAG boasts of players like well-known pacer Ishwar Pandey and Imityaz Ahmed and Sharma explained the repercussion of not having such a tournament.
“Cricket’s mostly played by middle-class or lower-classes. If there’s no jobs, it will affect thousands of mid-level cricketers. It will not harm our institution but young cricketers will suffer the most. Last year we were told that due to the World Cup, we can’t hold this tournament, we said fine, but what is the problem now? The scheduling problem will keep happening, it was shocking to hear that once again BCCI will not have its Corporate Tournament.”
However, there is definitely a time crunch in the cricket calender of the BCCI. The numbers in their calendar released on Monday states that they will be conducting 900 matches in the span of six months from October 2015 to March 2016, before the start of the World T20 scheduled to be hosted in India.
“This will translate into 2,100 playing days of cricket that includes, senior domestic tournaments, junior domestic tournaments and women’s cricket,” its press release stated.
Duleep Trophy, the 50-year old tournament, was also given a skip a this year due to this packed schedule.
The BCCI needs a seven-day-window to host its Corporate Trophy but they have been unable to squeeze it in. The corporates are understandably disappointed by the decision.
M.Senthilnathan, the chief coach of the MRF Pace Foundation, argues that international players anyway don’t turn up for these small tournaments and that BCCI should go ahead even if the schedule appears packed.
Lifegiving for cricketers
“The Chennai team like us are lucky as we participate in league cricket and other tournament across India but what about the public sectors? They specially created teams for BCCI tournament. They are the ones who give jobs. This tournament secures life of hundreds of cricketers. These cricketers are the ones who don’t get chance to play for India or IPL, BCCI should think about them,” Senthilnathan points out.
A BCCI official told The Indian Express, that the Indian board might soon scrap the tournament as stars don’t play it anymore and it doesn’t bring any buzz with it.
In its early years, everyone from MS Dhoni to Yuvraj Singh to Harbhajan Singh have turned out for their employers.
“It was decided that international players will play these tournaments but after the first two years the Indian players were busy due to international commitments. Matches stopped getting telecast. When BCCI decided to have this tournament it was conditional that all players should be permanent employees and it gave jobs to many but now the domestic calendar is too tight,” a top BCCI official said on condition of anonymity.
Praveen Amre, a former India cricketer and in charge of Air India’s cricket, urged the BCCI to not stop the Corporate tournament. He argued that the situation where cricketers couldn’t get jobs could turn dire.
“To create more jobs the BCCI should continue this tournament. It has been the second year when the Corporate Trophy will not be played. One has to look at the bigger picture, only 10% of domestic players play IPL but what about the rest? These 90% gain through tournaments like the BCCI Corporate Trophy,” Amre points out.
Air India hasn’t been giving jobs to players for the past one decade and they play only a handful of tournaments in Mumbai apart from the occasional invitational meets. But there are teams like CAG, Food Corporation of India, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Andhra Bank and MRF who still nurture their cricket teams and also offer employment to many players. CAG, Chemplast, Indian Oil and Indian Cements made the semis last year.
It might seem ironical that even as the BCCI try to attract lucrative sponsorship and commercial deals from the corporate world they are struggling to host a tournament for teams owned by corporates.