When someone hears the word RedBull, the first image that springs to mind is a blue and silver energy drink can. Though the company has established itself as one of the most well-known energy drink companies in the world, it has also ventured into the sporting world to help aspiring cricketers realize their dreams.
Red Bull is not just limited to having cricketers and athletes as its brand ambassadors, but it is also providing a platform for college and university-level cricketers to showcase their talent. Thus, RedBull has backed the cricketers to grow and develop in their game by giving them a stage where they can aim to represent their nation on the global stage.
Red Bull Campus Cricket (RBCC) is the world’s only platform dedicated to college and university cricket. Teams participate in national competitions all across the world, with the victors earning the opportunity to represent their country in the World Final. The RBCC National Finals tournament was held at Mohali this year, and Delhi’s Alfalah University emerged victorious. Their next assignment will be against Oman, where they represent India at the World Finals, a place that will witness teams like South Africa, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka among others.
Red Bull Campus Cricket – The dream-fulfilling tournament
RBCC was launched in the year 2012, and the tournament completed its 11th edition this year. It is as unique as it sounds because this is a place where various universities from different parts of the nation compete.
The Red Bull Campus Cricket India Finals 2022 witnessed 174 participating players. While there were eight men’s teams that reached the league stage, two teams were added to the women’s leg as a total of four women’s teams competed in the one-of-a-kind T20 tournament.
300+ teams played the qualifiers of the RBCC 2022 over four months, and eight teams (put into two groups of four each) moved further to compete in the league stage. Every team was scheduled to play two games in the league stage, and the top two teams of both the groups qualified for the semi-finals of the Men’s league.
The 11th edition of the prestigious tournament saw quite a few well-known figures from the field of cricket. Two players from the winning team, Avneesh Sudha and Qamran Iqbal have represented India in the U-19 squad. The duo has also been a part of the Ranji while two more players, namely Bobby Yadav and Vedant Bharadwaj have played the Ranji.
The team that wins RBCC gets a chance to represent India in the World Finals as they go on to play with the national champions of various countries. Shardul Thakur, Siddhesh Lad, KL Rahul, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shahrukh Khan, Shivam Dube, and many more from the Indian team have competed in the previous editions of RBCC. International players like Niroshan Dickwella, Chirag Suri, Aiden Markram, and Lungi Ngidi have all competed on the international stage.
For the past three-four years, Rajasthan Royals has been scouting talents from RBCC, giving them player trials before coming to a decision about taking the cricketer further towards the IPL auction. Shahrukh Khan was scouted by the Royals and called up for the player trials. He impressed everyone and successfully registered himself at the IPL auctions, eventually being picked by Kolkata Knight Riders.
RBCC helps university-level cricketers grow
Delhi and Ahmedabad teams in the tournament overcame all odds in the league stage to enter the finals. This was the second consecutive time that Ahmedabad entered the finals. However, Delhi, who had been struggling for the past four years, finally made it big this time.
We got in touch with a few of the players who were a part of the two teams in the Grand Finale, as they expressed their views on how RBCC has helped them grow as professionals. Every player felt that the scouts of the Rajasthan Royals IPL franchise being present at the event motivated them to perform better.
While receiving the championship trophy, Delhi’s skipper Bobby Yadav talked about how the victory was a proud moment as they now aim to take India to a victory at the World Finals against Oman.
“The best part this year was we rectified the mistakes that we had been making for the past five years, which was keeping us on the backfoot in the tournament. Compared to other years, our team’s form this year was just amazing. The team was at its best this year. And every player contributed equally. Over every player, the coaching staff, everyone put their best foot forward this time. It is a very big moment for us that we will be representing India at the World Finals. Not just for me, it is a big deal for every person associated with the team,” he said.
Apart from Yadav, Delhi’s Faizan Alam and Mohammed Sharim were the finest bowlers for their side this season. Their spells helped their team restrict Jalandhar from chasing the low total in the semi-finals.
“RBCC is really a great tournament. I’ve been playing for the past five years, we lost the semi-finals twice in the previous editions, and there were times when we could not qualify for the Nationals. It was in the back of our mind that it’s been four that we had been struggling and haven’t reached the finals even once, not winning a single trophy. This time we entered with most of the new and fresh faces and finally did it. We finally won it,” said Faizan.
“Rajasthan Royals’ scouts coming for the tournament motivates us even more. We feel that if we do good, we have a chance of making it into the franchise in the Indian Premier League. I have been selected by them twice, and I went for the player trials. I had been a part of the side as a net bowler during the recently concluded IPL season, so that gives us a big boost to achieve more,” Faizan added.
Mohammad Sharim, who was new to the tournament and was making a debut alongside some seniors like Alam, was glad that he could contribute to his team’s success.
“I came into the tournament for the first time, and being with the seniors helped me learn a lot throughout the journey. I had never received such an experience in my life ever earlier. Being selected as Rajasthan Royals’ net bowler through RedBull speedster was one thing, but playing the sport with the state team at such a big level was a very unique experience for me,” Sharim said.
“When I was with the franchise last year, Sanju Bhai (Sanju Samson) had praised me for my bowling and had said that this was a good phase for me and my career. The amount of knowledge he shared with me was a great deal, and I learned a lot from him. I’m feeling very proud after knowing I’ll be getting a chance to represent India in the World Finals because it is not an easy thing and thus, I will give my best even there,” he added.
The players from Ahmedabad’s New LJ College gave a terrific performance in the semi-finals, but could not withstand Delhi’s strategy and lost the finals for the second time in a row. Even after losing the tournament, the players were enthusiastic about making a strong comeback next year and getting their hands on the glorious cup.
“The top teams from various zones participate in the Red Bull Campus Cricket. We get to play against some of the finest players at the best stadiums and competing against these teams helps in the betterment of every player, thereby helping in our personal growth. The scouts watch the match, keep an eye on the score, and even on us, the players, which encourages us to put our best foot forward,” Bhavin Engle, their skipper, said.
Ahmedabad’s Smit Patel, who was the highest wicket-taker of the tournament with 12 scalps under his belt, believes that RBCC has helped him improve his game immensely. “We get a great experience at RBCC as expert players come under one roof to compete and emerge as the best. Being a bowler, this platform has helped me understand how to bowl to a specific batter, and what tricks and techniques to apply to tackle the hitters,” he said.
The stepping stone for future stars
The standard of cricket on display in Chandigarh at the National Finals this year was truly remarkable. The key is that this competition does not want to fall behind and the brand does not consider it to be just a once-a-year event. The tournament is about pitting the finest against one another and ensuring that every talented cricketer gets the opportunity they deserve.
While there have been players who are playing for the Indian team currently and have been doing really well, there’s no player who wishes to be the next KL Rahul or the next Shardul Thakur. They want to enter an arena where they become the first Smit Patel, the first Bobby Yadav, or the first Bhavin Engle.