Ranji Trophy: New season, new teams, and a revised format
The technical committee of the BCCI, headed by former Indian Captain Sourav Ganguly, had decided earlier this year that the tournament will happen in the following format: the entire lot was to be divided into four groups- with 3 groups having 7 teams and one with 8 teams (Bihar being the latest edition). 16 out of these teams, it was planned, would make it to the pre-quarters.
What is the matter?
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is trying to come up with a suitable format for the next season. But neither the number of teams that will feature in the Ranji Trophy is clear, nor is there any clarity on the format of India’s most coveted domestic cricket tournament.
All of this now seems a little problematic, because the format was designed on the assumption that no more teams would be added to the existing tally. However, a lot of things have changed since then, not only has Uttarakhand been cleared to feature in the tournament, but as many as 5 Northeastern states are set to make an appearance in the domestic tournament.
This is not a certainty since players from all the 5 states can come together to form a single team as well. More clarity is needed on this issue. Not to forget the inclusion of Pondicherry. This means that the number of teams that will participate in the next season can go up to 36.
As per the present information, the next season will witness the BCCI go back to the tried and tested formula known as the "Elite and Plate" format. The dysfunctional teams of this format could be replaced by the new teams that are likely to feature in the tournament next year. Though the Ganguly led technical committee hasn’t taken a final call on how things would work out in terms of scheduling and relegation, it looks like instead of playing a combined eleven from 5 Northeastern states, each state will have its own team to claim a stake at the trophy.
The final decision on whether the 5 different teams will play from the Northeast belt or just a team comprising of players from all, would be worked out in about a fortnight or so. Discussions and deliberations have started over the Elite and Plate league and that might be the way to move forward.
What is the Elite and Plate Method?
Earlier, the Ranji Tournaments were organized on the basis of the Elite and Plate model. In this method, each had two subdivisions. For instance, Elite would have 8 and 9 teams in its two groups while the Plate division would have 10 teams divided into two groups. 2 teams from Plate and 6 teams from the Elite would then meet at the knock out stages. However, the Elite and Plate method was discontinued 6 years ago.
Abhishek Nayar refused to participate as a player cum coach
Mumbai star Abhishek Nayar refused Pondicherry’s proposal to play for them as a player cum coach. Nayar said no to the coaching assignment but hasn’t decided if he wants to play in the Ranji Trophy. A veteran batsman in the ranks would be a huge thing for a team like Pondicherry which is set to mark its debut appearance.