Wednesday, June 13, 2012

India Domestic Overhaul - 2012

Some interesting development are underway for anyone who follows Indian domestic cricket. The Technical Committee of BCCI (consisiting of former captains like Ganguly & Kumble) have made some major recommendations for overhauling the domestic cricket structure in the country. Quite a few very interesting proposals are here. Here is my take on the recommendations. (These are yet to be ratified and BCCI can just opt for Status Quo)

Ranji Trophy - The current 27 teams are proposed to be divided into 3 groups/tiers with minimum 8 matches guaranteed for all teams. This is to be followed by an 8 team knock-out stage. There are also promotion & relegation involved. 
  • I like the idea of having more 1st class games given that the teams in the existing Plate league got only 5 games per season. More 1st class games should certainly help the players. Also a longer season would help in players recovering from injuries/loss of form etc. 
  • However a league cum knock-out system with promotion & relegation is a bit confusing to me. Does it mean a team from Group C can hope to win the Ranji Trophy and yet be eligible to play in Group B and not the top tier Group A? 
  • There are also concerns that some of the performers in the lower leagues may not get noticed. But this may be a bit unfounded given that quite a few players in the current national team represent the Plate teams (Dhoni, Yadav, Aaron) while none from the two time defending champions Rajasthan are even close to the national cap.
  • Having 5 day matches from the Knock-Out stage onwards is also a good idea, giving more chances of outright results rather than just 1st innings leads issues.
  • Also, the Under-22 teams will be referred to as A teams with scope of having upto 3 players under-25. Does this mean that these matches also will be given 1st class status? 

Duleep Trophy - Tournament has been shifted to the start of the season. This implies that the zonal teams will be selected on the basis of the previous season's performances? Makes little sense to me. 1st of all given that the zonal system has been removed, why have the Duleep Trophy at all? And if has is to take place, why not hold it after the Ranji league stage at least or after the finals. These would be reward for good performances in the current year. Alternatively, Duleep Trophy might be used as warm-ups for the home Test season. Only if all national players are available. Hardly see this happening as our seniors prefer resting during Tests also.

Irani Trophy - Should have continued as the season opener. Instead has been shifted to the season ender. Given that the domestic season ends with IPL, the concept seems misaligned. As the season opener can act as the one warm-up game for the Indian home Test season.

Vijay Hazare Trophy - Is the tournament to be played in zonal format or in the 3 tier league format? Zonal format would reduce the number of games and the duration of the tournament as well. The winning team getting to play in the Challenger Trophy seems to be an interesting incentive for the winner.

Challenger Trophy - Never understood the concept of this tournament. 3 teams picked without any basis and playing 2/3 games over a 4 day period. Seems more like a warm-up camp than anything else. This time they want one of the 3 teams to be the Vijay Hazare trophy winner while the other teams would be picked from the rest. Seems like an extended 50 over Irani Trophy now.

Deodhar Trophy - Again like Duleep Trophy is an outdated concept. Don't know why it is still being held? If I remember correctly, BCCI once tried to remove the tournament, but had to roll back its decision after threats from certain quarters, as it hurt certain regional "pride".

Mustaq Ali Trophy - The national T20 tournament. And hardly in the limelight. The performers in the inaugural edition of the Mustaq Ali tournament in 2007 were picked for the T20 World Cup which India won. Since then the teams have been picked on the basis of the IPL performances and India has been getting knocked out early. Shows the value of this tournament (Just Kidding!). Also can be used as a good feeder for the IPL teams domestic players. Suggest the tournament be held before the IPL auctions for domestic players in the coming years. Performers will be instantly rewarded.

Other Changes - Uncovered pitches, 12 overs per bowler in the 50 over matches, 2 bouncers per over etc. These are the kind of things one regularly hears. Lets see if the experiments have any positive result on the Limited Overs game as such.

Nice to see the BCCI getting into an overhaul mode of the domestic game, with emphasis on getting more 1st class matches. With the 2 "A" tours (West Indies, New Zealand), an extended rest for the national team and hosting 10 Tests, the board certainly seems to be planning in the right direction. Hopefully we don't go into participating in meaningless ODI series and one-off T20s.

P.S. These are still at proposal stage and yet to be ratified.

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