Gopi plays waiting game on proposed change in scoring format

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) may have proposed a major scoring revamp but India's chief coach P. Gopi Chand has preferred to keep his cards close to his chest.

Gopi Chand is confident the Indian shuttlers will be focussed on the job at hand despite the debate surrounding the major scoring revamp.   -  V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) may have proposed a major scoring revamp but India's chief coach P. Gopi Chand has preferred to keep his cards close to his chest.

The BWF last week announced its intentions to introduce the existing 21x3 format with the 11x5 format. It would mean the shorter duration of a game - which is proposed to be a race to 11 points - would make it commercially more viable, with increased opportunities for commercial breaks on television.

The proposal is set to be tabled at the BWF annual general meeting in Bangkok on May 19.

“At the moment there is nothing officially out about it, so I would just wait for the meeting to happen in May. In the meanwhile, whatever opinion we have to give the federation, we will give that,” Gopi said after interacting with the badminton fraternity on Saturday before the final of the G.D. Birla Memorial masters tournament at the Bombay Gymkhana.

Ever since the existing scoring format of best-of-three games - with each being a race to 21 points - was introduced in 2006, the players seem to have a taken a liking for it. As a result, the Asian federations, including the Badminton Association of India (BAI), are likely to oppose the rule change.

However, the opposition of dominant on-court counties may not suffice if the proposal is put to vote in May.

“The change will be uncomfortable. It may be beneficial for some, might not be beneficial for some. We'll take it as it comes. At the moment, as I said, we will hold back the official reaction. We will spell out our position to the association and wait till May to get clarity,” said Gopi.

The BWF has started experimenting with the new format at lower levels since 2014 - the franchise-based Premier Badminton League adopting it already. But the sporting fraternity hasn't been game for the change, with veteran coach U. Vimal Kumar even referring to it as a "stupid" proposal.

It would be interesting to see if the shuttlers can keep their focus on the existing format for the challenging assignments in the next couple of months, rather than preparing for what could be a new challenge altogether thereafter.

Gopi, however, was confident the Indian shuttlers will be focussed on the job at hand. “I think there are big tournaments in between so I don't think there is any way in which they can lose focus,” he said. “It's important that they put their foot down and focus on the All England (in March) and the Commonwealth Games (in April).”