Is BCCI Truly Serious About Domestic Cricket?

Yajurvindra Singh

By: Yajurvindra Singh


March 8th 2024:

The Ranji Trophy:

The Ranji Trophy has reached the final stage. Mumbai will be vying to win it for the 42nd time, a trophy that at one stage looked to be in their permanent custody. Vidarbha, will be the team that they need to beat, one that has shown that they have the mettle to do so by winning it twice in 2017-18 and in 2018-19. They are a side that have been in the fore-front in recent times, a team that one needs to beat.

This will be the second occasion when two sides from the same State of Maharashtra will be playing for the title. In 1971, Maharashtra, the firm favorites under their astute captain Chandu Borde, lost to a young Mumbai side led by Sudhir Nayak.

The Ranji Trophy for any domestic cricketer, is the goal and foremost aspiration for one to play in. To get into ones state side is the start and stepping stone of a cricketer towards playing for the country. It is a journey that commences in school, goes into U-19, club as well as college and university cricket. The joy and excitement of seeing one’s name just in the probables of one’s State side is when a cricketer feels that he has migrated to the senior rank.

The BCCI has emphasized recently as to how important it is for Indian domestic cricketers to play the Ranji Trophy. Any player who intentionally absconds from it would face severe and harsh punishment, is what they have stated. This is a wonderful initiative to get the International players to take the premium tournament of the country seriously. To maintain the high standard of domestic cricket, it needs to be pursued or else Indian cricket will have quantity galore but will lack quality.

However, the question that comes to mind is, why the most important domestic tournament of the country coincides with an Indian Test match. This highlights that the BCCI cricket match scheduling committee seems more keen to tick the box to complete the tournament, rather than to make it into a prestigious one. The Ranji Trophy final could have been postponed , especially, as cricketers have grumbled about having only a gap of 3 days between the matches in the knock-out stage. This does become an arduous schedule for the bowlers in order for them to recover for the next encounter.

Playing the final of the Ranji Trophy is a momentous occasion for an Indian player. It remains as much etched into ones memory as playing for the country. Unfortunately, I missed playing it on 2 occasions due to semi-final losses playing for Maharashtra in 1972 and when I led Saurashtra in 1981 as well. Both those defeats rankle with me even today. A Mumbai side with all their Test players in the squad in a Ranji final would have been terrific to watch. However, one gathers that the importance of the IPL supersedes the most valuable domestic tournament.

In the past cricketers would give their right arm to play the Ranji Trophy at any stage of the tournament to assist their respective sides to progress further. One felt loyal, not only for ones’ fellow colleagues, but also for the Association that backed one to get there.

The BCCI should put their words into action and one hopes, hereafter, that the Ranji Trophy schedule takes into account all the International and India ‘A’ matches, in order to ensure that the overlapping is limited to the minimum.

In several cricket playing countries, because of the T20 franchise cricket, the standard of domestic cricket has depleted drastically, as players are opting to play elsewhere. The BCCI has to ensure that Indian cricket does not fall victim as well.

Indian cricket is flourishing with India having already won the series against England, the Ranji Trophy in progress and the Women’s Premier League in full throttle.

Indian Women’s cricket is gradually reaching a serious stage. Cricketers seem to be emerging from every corner of India’s landscape. The most revealing aspect is the confidence and positivity that they show while batting, bowling and fielding. Cricket for each one of them has also become a profession and one that they plan to pursue as a career.

That will augur well for women’s cricket, especially, as in India girls were not encouraged to take to the cricket field in the past.

The BCCI has now the additional responsibility to structure Indian women’s domestic cricket. The most challenging aspect would be for them to ensure that the senior women cricketers are very much a part of the domestic scene at this early stage.

The Wankhede Stadium will be celebrating its golden jubilee. It was 50 years ago when it was built. A Ranji final between the 2 top Maharashtra sides at the venue should be a perfect setting.

(Yajurvindra Singh is a former India cricketer. The views expressed are personal)

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