Combined North-East XI likely to play Ranji Trophy

The Board’s technical committee, during its meeting last month, had taken suggestions from the North-Eastern States on how to bring the idea to fruition.

Sources in the BCCI confirmed to Sportstar that the proposal of having a combined North-East team had been agreed.   -  AFP (Representative Image)

After Bihar, it’s time for North-Eastern states to earn Ranji Trophy status.

If things fall in place, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is likely to approve of the idea of fielding a combined unit for the five North-Eastern States — Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Sikkim and Nagaland — under its New Area Development Programme (NADP), later this month.

The BCCI technical committee had agreed with the idea in a meeting in Kolkata last month. “We are now expecting a ratification once the BCCI working committee meets later in May for a final approval,” Naba Bhattacharjee, the convenor of Bihar and North-East Zone and coordinator of the NADP committee, told Sportstar.

Read: Bihar back in Ranji Trophy after 18 years

Chaired by former India captain Sourav Ganguly, the technical committee, during its meeting last month, had taken suggestions from the North-Eastern States on how to bring the idea to fruition. Bhattacharjee said, “I had joined the meeting via video conferencing. We clarified the committee that the five States should be allowed to play as a combined unit at least for the next couple of years. We also suggested that Bihar be left out of the North-East, since it has already been granted Ranji Trophy status.”

‘Final call’ up to committee

Sources in the BCCI, who are in the know of development, confirmed to Sportstar that the proposal of having a combined North-East team had been agreed. “The technical committee has assessed all the possibilities and the recommendation has been forwarded to the working committee, and it is up to them to take a final call,” the source said, adding that the working committee could meet later this month.

Once the official decision was conveyed, the nomenclature of the team would be decided following urgent meetings, according to Bhattacharjee. But what about zeroing in on venues? “We have proper facilities in Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland, so that will not be a problem. We have already initiated the process of getting the grounds ready for the season,” Bhattacharjee said.

Last year, the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), after a meeting with the North-Eastern states, had opened the doors for their participation. As a result, the BCCI had introduced State-wise participation for the North-Eastern states and Bihar in the women’s and age-group categories. Even though the teams fared poorly in the tournaments, it had at least allowed the cricketers gain valuable exposure.

Now, with Ranji Trophy participation looking certain, the North-Eastern states will have more to look forward to.