Bihar to play in Ranji Trophy from 2018-19 season
What's the story?
The Supreme Court of India has finally allowed the state team of Bihar to play in the Ranji Trophy as well as other domestic tournaments organised by the BCCI. The decision came after a long battle by the Bihar Cricket Association (BCA) to gain Full Membership status of the BCCI, a position which was terminated in 2001.
In case you didn't know..
Late former BCCI President, Jagmohan Dalmiya, had suspended the BCA after Bihar faced division, and was broken up into the new state of Jharkhand. This came in September 2001, ten months after Bihar's bifurcation, when Dalmiya had made the BCA, at the time led by Lalu Prasad Yadav, ineligible, instead fully allowing the proper functioning of the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA).
The JSCA also successfully built a stadium in Ranchi, which hosted its first Test match in 2017.
The heart of the matter
It was reported in September 2017 that Bihar had returned to the BCCI's fray of domestic games, albeit at a lower level. They were clubbed alongside five north-east teams to participate in the Men's Under-23 and Under-16 tournaments as well as the Women's Under-19 one.
Last year after being slotted with states from the north-east of India, Aditya Verma, the secretary of the BCA, had questioned the BCCI's move. “I will bring up the matter at the Supreme Court. Bihar has a heritage of cricket and it’s unfair to group us with teams that have not played first-class cricket. Bihar is also likely to be listed as a full member in the new BCCI constitution. So Bihar too should play Ranji Trophy, like other full members,” he had said.
While the inclusion of Bihar comes across as good news for its cricketers, it remains to be seen who ends up representing the state since almost all of their players have been playing for Jharkhand. Also, another team might lead to a bit of complications in tournaments like the Ranji Trophy, which already has 28 teams and has repeatedly seen a switch of formats over the last few years.
At the same time, it is also unfair on Bihar, who played domestic cricket for decades, to be grouped together with states lacking domestic experience.