Confusion in store as BCCI releases domestic calendar

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MUMBAI, July 19: The BCCI, on Wednesday, released the schedule for the 2018-19 domestic season, sharing a gist of the number of tournaments that will make for a total of 2017 First Class and List A matches starting with the Duleep Trophy next month.
“A total of 37 teams will take part in the Ranji Trophy this year which will include nine new teams. The tournament will have nine teams each in Elite Group A and B and 10 teams in the Elite Group C. The nine new teams – Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim & Uttarakhand – will be placed in the Plate group category,” the cricket board said in an official statement.
TOI had highlighted the domestic circuit’s prevailing apathy on Wednesday, where the Board’s panel for umpires and match-referees has only 97 field umpires and 54 match referees to officiate matches in excess of 2000.
Now, with the CoA deciding to announce the entire domestic schedule, there’s further confusion on the cards.
1. A total of 37 teams will take part in the Ranji Trophy this year which will include nine new teams.
2. The tournament will have nine teams each in Elite Group A and B and 10 teams in the Elite Group C.
3. The nine new teams will be placed in the Plate group category.
As per the earlier directives of the Supreme Court, and as recommended by the Lodha Committee, the CoA has included nine new teams from the northeast to be part of the domestic tournaments, including the Ranji Trophy. The nine new teams have been included in the Plate Group of the country’s premier domestic tournament. However, the fact remains that there happens to be only one facility where games can be played in the entire northeast.
Nine new teams in the Ranji Trophy will mean an additional 36 matches and the BCCI’s operations team has no clue whatsoever where these matches will be held. “That is why the detailed match-schedule hasn’t been released as yet. Because nobody has a clue where to host these matches,” say sources in the know of developments.
Venues like Mumbai and Delhi- which have multiple grounds capable of hosting First Class matches – are an option. But that doesn’t mean the BCCI’s operations team, headed by GM Saba Karim, has bothered to look at these options as yet.
Further, BCCI members say the announcement of domestic schedule on part of CoA is in direct contempt of the country’s court. “When the Supreme Court hasn’t delivered its final order yet, how do we know what is the bench’s view on Puducherry and Uttarakhand playing Ranji Trophy? For regions that don’t even have proper cricket grounds, there are so many aspects to look into before they directly start playing premier tournaments. Isn’t it more important to wait for the court order before announcing teams and schedules?” say members. For the record, the only proper cricket ground in the northeast is the Sovima Cricket Stadium in Dimapur, Nagaland, which last hosted a match of any consequence in 2013.
As per the existing Ranji Trophy regulations, the top team that qualifies for quarterfinals from the Plate group will be promoted to Elite Group C in the next season. The top two teams that qualify for the quarter-finals from Elite Group C will be promoted to Elite Group A & B next season.
“The serious question looming here is if the CoA has done any bit of homework in examining whether these teams from northeast belong here in the first place.
Instead, they’ve blindly adopted an order which is being rewritten by the SC right now,” say members. (TNN)