As the Sportstar Trophy cricket tournament stepped into its 25th year, former Indian skipper Dilip Vengsarkar called it a stepping stone for youngsters dreaming of making a mark in the Indian cricket team and the cricketing world.
“It is basically a selection tournament and a solid platform to display your talent for getting into Mumbai and Indian squads,” said Vengsarkar. The former Indian captain said: “There have been instances of performers here included in the Mumbai probables, a few special and talented ones going on to play for India. Sachin Tendulkar is one of them.
As a 12-year-old he was playing the under-14 and the under-19 cricket matches, because he was an exceptional talent.” Sachin captained the Dattu Phadkar XI in the 1987 Sportstar Trophy and emerged as the ‘Player of the Tournament’. The Little Master was the 1st winner of the ‘Player of Tournament’ award in 1987, when the tournament was restricted to under-17 talented youth only.
“We looked forward to playing this tournament,” said Sachin Tendulkar, talking to the media persons from Colombo. “I still remember that when we used to have our matches, a lot of former Test cricketers used to come to watch us play and recognize talent at the junior level. The Sportstar Trophy provides competitive opportunities to Mumbai young cricketing minds.”
The age-group has changed from under-17 to under-19, Tendulkar talks about the value of Sportstar Trophy to Mumbai cricket. “It is a valuable tournament for Mumbai juniors, especially the under-19 boys by offering them a platform to broadcast them before the Cooch Behar Trophy.” The Cooch Behar Trophy is a National level under-19 event, organised by the BCCI.
He took the shortcut to international cricket, making his Test debut for India against Pakistan in 1989, within two years of leading Phadkar XI to victory in 1987. Vengsarkar reasons that events like the Sportstar Trophy play a huge role in development of junior talent.
“Mumbai cricket has the Harris Shield, the Giles Shield for school kids, and then the inter-collegiate events. The under-19 competition is an opportunity for the young blood, for which a timely performance in front of selectors can make a difference,” This policy of testing age-group talent in match situations continues. The MCA (Mumbai Cricket Association) junior selectors’ shortlists under-19 probables for four teams named after Vijay Merchant, Vijay Manjrekar, Khandu Rangnekar and Dattu Phadkar.