State associations divided over domestic cricket season fate

Most of the BCCI affiliates seem to prefer at least two of the three inter-state men’s competiitions being played amid the pandemic.

The Ranji Trophy 2019-20 final between Bengal and Saurashtra was the last official cricket match in India before the COVID-19 outbreak.   -  VIJAY SONEJI

A day before the deadline for submitting their preferred option for a truncated domestic season, the state associations seem to be a divided lot. Most of the BCCI affiliates that have submitted their response seem to prefer at least two of the three inter-state men’s competiitions being played amid the pandemic.

The BCCI on Saturday had asked the 38 associations to choose one of the four options for staging the domestic season: 1: Only Ranji Trophy (RT); 2: Only Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy (SMAT20); 3: Both RT and SMAT20; 4: SMAT20 and Vijay Hazare Trophy (VHT).

By Tuesday evening, more than 20 member units are understood to have written to the BCCI. While no one has preferred only Ranji Trophy to be staged, a majority of the state associations have preffered either the third or the fourth option. Of the details of 20 associations available with Sportstar, seven each have preferred either RT and SMAT20 or SMAT20 and VHT.

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While some of the central and northern units like Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have opted for only the SMAT20 to be played considering the cricketers’ safety, some of the major state units, including Mumbai, Saurashtra and Tamil Nadu, have preferred to start with the limited overs’ option and then think of Ranji Trophy if the pandemic eases out a bit.

It means that neither Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), the most successful Ranji outfit, nor defending champion Saurashtra (SCA) has ticked the Ranji Trophy box. MCA secretary Sanjay Naik said the MCA had suggested it “considering we have the IPL and two T20 World Cups in the next two years and the need to manage shorter tournaments”. SCA secretary Himanshu Shah stated that “Ranji Trophy can be thought of only after the COVID-19 wave subsides”.

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The only glaring exception to it is the Karnataka State Cricket Association, who according to a BCCI insider, has stressed on the need to “stage all the senior tournaments, even if they clash with the IPL 2021 and even conduct women’s and age-group events later on”. KSCA and TNCA are also among a few associations that have offered to host the tournaments.

Two-time champion Vidarbha has opted for SMAT20 and Ranji Trophy but president Anand Jaiswal added that VCA has requested for “sufficient preparation time since the state government is yet to allow staging any competitive cricket in Maharashtra”.

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