India skipper Virat Kohli urged youngsters to focus more on the longer format and made a strong statement at a very crucial juncture stating that Test cricket is paramount.
The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) felicitated former state captains, including current national team skipper Kohli, at its first annual conclave in the national capital.
"I see only Unmukt Chand sitting here. But I want to tell all of the young generation, please focus on the longer format of the game," Kohli said while speaking at the conclave.
"I believe Test cricket is paramount for the game to sustain globally. Test cricket is fighting for its survival at the moment. Youngsters need to take to Test cricket for it to survive, not only in our country but globally," he added.
Former India cricket captain Bishan Singh Bedi urged the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to bring back the older version of the Duleep Trophy, which he felt should have zonal teams.
While the BCCI excluded the Duleep Trophy from the 2015-16 season, in the last two seasons, the teams were named as India Blue, India Green and India Red. The teams were composed of players from across the zones.
Delivering a memorial lecture at the first DDCA annual conclave, Bedi also urged the young cricketers to prove their talent at the two domestic competitions before thinking about the franchise-based Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament.
Bedi said that the cricket officials should have a re-look at the way the Ranji Trophy is played. He minced no words in criticising the current state of the Duleep Trophy.
"These two competitions are crucial to our cricket structure. It used to be a ladder -- you do well for state teams and then go on to represent the zonal teams. That tradition has been broken.
"Ranji Trophy needs a fair and hard look. Duleep Trophy should not see the colours instead of zones," he said, referring to the names of the teams in the current mode. That has to be the criteria for international consideration.
"I have no issue at all on those going for T20s and IPL matches. Assessment of a talent has to be on the figures of first-class cricket," he insisted.
Bedi also "respected" current Indian skipper Virat Kohli's complaint of a cramped international cricket schedule.
He also had words of praise for Kohli.
"Kohli's intensity during a game which he displays -- I have not seen that in any other Indian. But I don't agree with some of the gestures he does on the field. But with time, he will mellow," Bedi, who unveiled a stand named after him at the Ferozeshah Kotla, said.
Commenting on the issue of resumption of bilateral cricket ties between India and Pakistan, Bedi said that cricket should be kept above politics.
"Cricketers play cricket. They are not supposed to stop terrorism. It is the same thing with the films. What is the point of curbing them in this?"
The former captains were Prakash Bhandari, Rajinder Pal, Bishan Singh Bedi, Vinay Lamba, Venkat Sundaram, Surinder Amarnath, Mohinder Amarnath, Chetan Chauhan, Rakesh Shukla, Madan Lal, Ajay Sharma, Kirti Azad, Surinder Khanna, K.P. Bhaskar, Ravi Sehgal, Sanjeev Sharma, Manoj Prabhakar, Vijay Dahiya, Nikhil Chopra, Rahul Sangawi, Ajay Jadeja, Amit Bhandari, Mithun Manhas, Maninder Singh, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Aakash Chopra, Rajat Bhatia, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Unmukt Chand, Ishant Sharma and current skipper Rishabh Pant.
The DDCA also honoured former women's captains Sunita Sharma, Rakhi Mehra, Renuka Dua, Jaya Sharma, Lalita Sharma, Rajnee Sharma and Anjum Chopra.