Indian Cricket: The Men behind the Trophies

Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy have given the greatest cricketers that have ever played for India. But these trophies are named on some of the legends of the sport’s early history in our country. Let us look at the players who are still remembered for their contribution in exalting the status of Cricket to what it is today in India.

Indian Cricket: The Men behind the Trophies Indian Cricket: The Men behind the Trophies Source : Press


Ranji Trophy is India's premier first-class cricket competition. It is contested between 37 teams and Mumbai has been the most successful team with 41 titles. The competition is named after the first Indian cricketer who played International cricket. The Indian prince was popularly known as ‘Ranji' and he was one of the finest batsmen of his time. Ranjitsinhji played for England and he is known for introducing late cut and leg glance and defending on back-foot. "When Ranji passed out of cricket," wrote Sir Neville Cardus, "a wonder and a glory departed from the game forever."


Credit: Prince Ranjitsinhji, (1872 - 1933), star batsman for Sussex and England, at the Oval, London. (Getty Image)  TOI

Prince Ranjitsinhji, (1872 - 1933), star batsman for Sussex and England, at the Oval, London. (Getty Image)



Irani Trophy is India's second first-class cricket competition. It is contested between the winner of Ranji Trophy and the Rest of India team. It is played immediately after the Ranji Trophy final. The competition is named after former BCCI Zal Irani who was elected in 1966. Anthony De Mello, the first secretary of BCCI had asked Irani to join the board. ND Karmakar, an ex-BCCI assistant secretary said that the board could not have asked for "a better and upright treasurer, who was always elected as treasurer unopposed."


Duleep Trophy is India's third first-class cricket competition. Up until 2014-15, it used to be a zonal competition which is now played between teams chosen by BCCI selectors. The competition is named after Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji of Nawanagar. He was the nephew of Ranjitsinhji, he was among the most popular batsmen to play for England. He had a remarkable first-class career in England scoring 50 centuries. He was fondly known as "Duleep" or "Mr. Smith," HS Altham, former President of MCC, wrote of him in Wisden: "In natural gifts of eye, wrist and footwork he is certainly blest far above the ordinary measure... there is no doubt about the judgment and certainty with which he takes toll of straight balls of anything but the most immaculate length. His late cutting is quite beautiful and there is a certain ease and maturity about all his batting methods that stamps him as of a different class from the ordinary school batsman."



Duleep, the most cricket-worthy of Ranji's nephews. Credit: ICC Cricket

Photo Credits: Getty Images | ICC Cricket 



Vijay-Hazare Trophy is India's leading List A cricket competition. It is named after one of India's finest cricketers ever, Vijay Hazare. The fight that he showed against the run of play, when he scored twin hundreds against the ‘invincible' Aussies led by Don Bradman in a losing cause against Australia in Adelaide, 1947-48, in India's first ever tour down under is the stuff of legends.


1952: Vijay Hazare batting during the England versus India Test Match in Manchester. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

1952: Indian cricketer Vijay Hazare batting during the England versus India Test Match in Manchester. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)



Hazare was always at his best when his team was in the direst of situations. In his first match as captain against England abroad, Hazare came on and scored 56 against Fred Trueman, after India were four down without troubling the scorers.


When World War II brought cricket to a standstill, much of the credit for keeping the game alive in India must go to Hazare, who with Vijay Merchant took part in run-scoring duels that drew crowds of 20-30,000 to Bombay's Brabourne Stadium. Hazare's most productive domestic season was in 1943-44 when he scored 1,423 runs. He made scores of 248, 59, 309, 101, 223 and 87, reaching 1,000 runs in only four matches. The 248 and 309 are significant for his rivalry with Merchant, who bettered the first score by two runs, only to watch the new high score shattered by the triple-century a day later.


Deodhar Trophy is India's second List A cricket competition. It is named after the Grand Old Man of Indian cricket, Prof. Dinkar Balwant Deodhar who could never play Test cricket. When India played its first test in 1932, he was already an icon of Indian cricket because of his domination in first-class cricket but he was 40 and was considered too old to play. He was credited with establishing Maharashtra as a premier first-class team in the 1930s, captaining it for two seasons of the Ranji Trophy in 1939-40 and 1940-41.


Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy is India's domestic T20 cricket competition named after Indian first batsman to score a test century away from home when he scored 112 at Old Trafford in 1936, Syed Mushtaq Ali, the last player who played Test cricket for India before Independence. Keith Miller called him "the Errol Flynn of cricket - dashing, flamboyant, swashbuckling and immensely popular wherever he played".


Vijay Merchant and Syed Mushtaq Ali (right) walk out to bat on Day 1 of the Test against England at Old Trafford, on July 25, 1936. Photograph: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Vijay Merchant and Syed Mushtaq Ali walk out to bat on Day 1 of the Test against England at Old Trafford, on July 25, 1936.
Photograph: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images



A tall batsman with quick reflexes, Mushtaq played his last match was at the age of 48 in 1963-64. His cricket career spanned a long passage of over three decades, but he only appeared in 11 test matches.


Mushtaq's favorite shots were the pull and the unsettling walking down towards the bowler casual to the thrill of the spectators. Neville Cardus wrote, "The batting has paid rare tribute to cricket's loveliness, its art and originality."



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