BCCI accepts Virender Sehwag's suggestion; remodels Ranji Trophy format
The teams will be divided into four groups with seven teams each with the top two progressing to the quarter-final stage.
What's the story?
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has remodelled the Ranji Trophy format for the upcoming season with the teams being divided into four groups with seven teams each.
By replacing the earlier format, which had three groups of nine teams each, the BCCI has ensured that the teams will play two games less at the group stage, thereby reducing the burden somewhat for the players, especially the fast bowlers.
The board also accepted Virender Sehwag's proposal to maintain at least a four-day gap between matches.
"Seven teams in each group will balance the tournament nicely. Most importantly, this format will help us manage the workload of the bowlers, particularly the pacers, in a better way. Keeping Sehwag's suggestion in mind, this time we've consciously kept a four-day gap between all games in the Ranji Trophy.
"This will help the bowlers recover well for the next game. Earlier, a bowler from a Ranji-winning team would end up bowling in 12 games within a few months. That workload has been reduced by two games," said a source in the Board.
In case you didn't know...
The Ranji Trophy season in 2017-18 will look a lot different from the previous campaign with the BCCI having already done away with the concept of neutral venues by returning to the tried-and-tested home and away format after just one season.
The heart of the matter
With player fitness and injuries always a concern, especially with the 2019 World Cup less than two years away, the BCCI wants to ensure that all players remain in the best possible shape and are available for selection when required.
The new format will ensure that the players' workload will be reduced to a little extent, but more important is the fact that the board has also agreed to the suggestion of proper rest in-between matches, allowing them to refresh and recharge before the next one.
Two teams each from the four groups will head to the quarterfinals thereby bringing uniformity amongst the teams unlike the previous format, which invited criticism with two teams from the relatively weaker Group C guaranteed a quarter-final berth.
The BCCI has also accepted the Mumbai Cricket Association's (MCA) proposal for a new domestic one-day tournament for Under-23 cricketers and will be named as the Col. CK Nayudu Trophy.
The 2017-18 Ranji Trophy season will begin on October 6 while the quarterfinals will be played from December 7-11, the semifinals from December 17-21, and the final from December 29-January 2.
With the Under-19 World Cup scheduled for New Zealand in January 2018, the BCCI has also decided to schedule the one-day competition (Vinoo Mankad Trophy) ahead of the Cooch Behar Trophy (T20 format).
Indian skipper Virat Kohli has already laid down his plans for the big event and has publically stated that he would like to try out new combinations and players.
BCCI's move will help reduce the workload on the domestic players and help them be in the best possible shape to perform for a possible call-up to the national side.
It is vital to ensure that a good core of fast bowlers is readily available at the domestic level, especially for a team like India, who have a jam-packed schedule in the international calendar and BCCI's move is a good step in that direction.