BCCI may opt not to reschedule 'abandoned' Ranji matches

BCCI has decided to review its decision to reschedule two Ranji Trophy league matches that were unconventionally called off on the second day of the four-day affair. MCA and TNCA had objected to the move stating undue advantage for the teams involved.

Ranji Trophy, New Delhi, smog, cancelled

Owing to a dense smog in the national capital, the BCCI had announced that the two games in Delhi, originally scheduled from November 5 — Gujarat versus Bengal and Hyderabad against Tripura, will be held at the end of the scheduled league stage.   -  R.V. Moorthy

In the wake of objections raised by at least two state associations, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to review its decision to reschedule two Ranji Trophy league matches that were unconventionally called off on the second day of the four-day affair. In fact, indications are the senior tournament committee is all set to reverse the earlier decision of rescheduling two games.

During a meeting of all the BCCI affiliates in New Delhi on Friday, the members discussed the protest letters filed by Mumbai Cricket Association and Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, which led to the BCCI deciding to forward the earlier decision to the senior tournament committee.

The senior tournament committee includes BCCI vice-president Gautam Roy as chairman, along with representatives of Haryana, Goa, Odisha, Baroda and Uttar Pradesh cricket associations, with secretary Ajay Shirke as the convener. The date of the meeting is yet to be confirmed but a BCCI insider revealed the members were against the decision to postpone the games.

Rescheduled

Owing to a dense smog in the national capital, the BCCI had announced that the two games in Delhi, originally scheduled from November 5 — Gujarat versus Bengal and Hyderabad against Tripura, will be held at the end of the scheduled league stage.

“The Technical Committee of the BCCI recognised the extraordinary circumstances prevailing in Delhi and decided to reschedule the Ranji Trophy 2016-17 fifth round matches between Hyderabad-Tripura and Gujarat-Bengal after the first two days of play were lost due to smog conditions in New Delhi,” BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke had stated in a media statement on November 6.

“The revised venue and dates for the above matches which will be played after the league phase of Ranji trophy, will be announced shortly,” he had said.

Against rules

However, the BCCI playing conditions have no provision to either call a match off on the second day or to postpone a league match. In fact, the playing conditions clearly specify that one point will be awarded to each teams even if the “first Innings results not achieved with or without weather interference”.

The BCCI subsequently scheduled the two games from December 15 to 18, deferring the knockouts by a week. However, it was followed with objections by MCA and TNCA, stating that hosting the two games at the end of the league stage will offer undue advantage to the teams involved.

While a couple of members of the technical committee revealed to Sportstar that the technical committee had never been convened to discuss the issue, some of the senior office-bearers pointed out that the senior tournament committee – and not the technical committee – can decide on the possible rescheduling. Sourav Ganguly, the chief of Cricket Association of Bengal, incidentally chairs the BCCI technical committee.

U-turn

Shirke, however, made a flip-flop on the earlier statement, putting the onus on match referees of both the deferred matches. “It was a recommendation (by the technical committee) that was objected to and now the decision will be taken by the senior tournament committee,” Shirke told Sportstar. “The whole problem is related to the match referee’s decision to call off the match (on the second day).”

Rules and convention prescribe that umpires and match referees wait late into the fourth day's evening before calling a match off. For instance, the last Ranji game that was called off without a ball being bowled due to incessant rains in Kolkata – Bengal’s home game versus Baroda in 2013-14 – was eventually cancelled after tea on the fourth day.

It will be interesting to see what prompted the umpires and match referees for the Delhi games to cancel the game on the second day itself. Was it entirely their decision? Or did they act at the behest of someone in the BCCI? Watch this space.