Sourav Ganguly says Ranji Trophy structure is released by the BCCI for the upcoming domestic season can somewhat devalue first-class cricket.
Ganguly heads the BCCI technical committee, which approved the inclusion of the North-Eastern states, Puducherry and Bihar during its meeting back in April. But the structure proposed by the technical committee wasn’t adhered to, when the domestic calendar was released.
The promotion and relegation format in the CoA-approved scheduled has thrown open a big debate, with the bottom team from Elite Group C getting relegated to the Plate Group next term.
Given the gulf in class between the Ranji Trophy regulars and the newcomers nine new teams have been included there’s a school of thought within the BCCI that the relegation actually could benefit the Elite C wooden spooners, when they will face the Plate Group teams next season.
Also, first-class records, both individual records and team records, can fall like ninepins.
Ganguly concurred. “It has been done. So the people concerned will have to find a way to get around it. In the past, the Elite and Plate groups had been abolished, because it was felt that the performances in the Plate Group weren’t given enough recognition,” the former India captain told, confirming that the technical committee had proposed a different structure. “I think, it’s because of the current situation in the BCCI (this has happened),” Ganguly added.
He, however, stressed that his committee was always in favour of integrating the North-Eastern states, Bihar, Puducherry and Uttarakhand into the Indian cricket mainstream. “At some point, they had to start.” But the technical committee had proposed the introduction of Division B in the Ranji Trophy, incorporating the new teams in the lower division.
“When the level of cricket in the jurisdiction of a particular state reaches a certain level across formats and age-groups, promotion to Division A can be considered by the general body,” a cricket board official, who had attended the technical committee meeting, told this paper then.
The alternative proposal was to include the new teams in the top-tier without any bifurcation. The BCCI general body meeting on June 22 took a resolution that the Ranji Trophy would return to its erstwhile Elite and Plate groups format, with “all the teams presently playing Ranji Trophy shall play in the Elite Group” while the new teams like Bihar and the North-Eastern states “shall play in the Plate Group”.
A qualifying Super League has been proposed, featuring the two bottom placed teams in the Elite Group and top two teams in the Plate group, with the winners and the runners-up acquiring promotion to the top tier next season and the other two teams playing in the lower rung.
But the first-class schedule that was released on July 18, incorporating Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim and Uttarakhand in the Plate Group, apparently ignored the suggestions from the technical committee and the general body.>