Dubai: University cricket, which was once used as a platform by budding Indian cricketers to catch the attention of the selectors, is being revived in India. It is being showcased on the NDTV television channel, with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan as the ambassador of the event, which is expected to unearth future talent.
The competition, which will be known as the Toyota University Cricket Championship, will have eight teams from four zones playing in a Twenty20 format for the title. It will commence from next month.
The tournament may also attract lucrative Indian Premier League team owners eyeing up-and-coming young players.
University cricket used to be very popular in India, especially in metropolitan cities during the 1960s and 1970s.
Dr Prannoy Roy, the NDTV Executive Co-Chairperson, who is taking a personal interest in the event, said he will make the event exciting and a world-class affair through “brilliant camera work” and “excellent graphics”. The Toyota Inter University tournament will be broadcast on a sport channel and also on NDTV.
Speaking at the launch, Khan said: “Whatever I am today it is because of what I learnt at school and universities. Sports can be a salaried job. I would like to be a brand ambassador for any sport.”
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is supporting the event. BCCI President N. Srinivasan has stressed that his board has always encouraged university cricket and praised NDTV for sponsoring the event. Untll now, the most popular university cricket in India was the Rohinton Baria tournament, which is keenly fought. Mumbai University dominated the event, as players on the brink of playing for India used to compete.
The Vizzy Trophy, which is the inter-zonal university event, also produced many stars. In fact, India’s most prolific opening pair of Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan first opened the innings together in the Vizzy Trophy. What’s more, another former India batsman Dilip Vengsarkar announced his arrival as a major player via university cricket. The Association of Indian Universities, along with BCCI, staged the Vizzy Trophy.
Minister of State Shashi Tharoor, who attended the launch. said other sports should follow India’s example and stage inter-university events.