A shot in the arm for Northeast cricket

CoA assures North East states — Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland — of individual representation in the Ranji Trophy from next year. U-23, U-16 teams to represent as individual states from this season.

The North East states will have larger presence in Indian cricket, after the CoA allowed individual representation for the six States in domestic cricket. (Representative image)   -  Vivek Bendre

Sun rises on Northeast cricket, finally!

The north-eastern States, on Friday, received a shot in the arm as the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) assured the six state associations that they would have their individual representation in domestic season from this year itself.

After being snubbed for the Ranji Trophy, six North-East states — Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland — had written to the CoA asking to field individual teams.

In a meeting in New Delhi on Friday, CoA member Vinod Rai met the representatives of the six States and assured them that they will be allowed to play the Ranji Trophy as individual States from next season. “There is no time left for us to be included in the Ranji Trophy this season, so we have been assured of places next season,” Naba Bhattacharjee, secretary of Meghalaya Cricket Association, told Sportstar.

The six States, however, would be allowed to play in the U-16 and U-23 levels as individual teams from this season. BCCI GM (Game Development), Prof. Ratnakar Shetty has been given the charge to ensure smooth execution. "We will soon finalise the details. The Northeast States have been playing as a combined unit in the U-16 and U-23 levels since last season. This time, they demanded individual representation and we will figure out a plan soon," Shetty told Sportstar after the meeting.

The CoA also decided to include a specific North East Zone for the U-16 Zonal Championship (Vinoo Mamlar Trophy) and the U-23 CK Nayudu Trophy. While Tripura and Assam will continue playing in the East Zone, the six states will form a separate North East Zone.

Vinod Rai, the CoA chairman, said that the north-eastern States will be eligible to play once Supreme Court pronounces the verdict on their membership status.

“They will be eligible to play Ranji Trophy once Supreme Court decides on their full membership status,” Rai told reporters after the COA meeting.

On junior cricket, Rai said:“I think junior (age-group) cricket has already been factored in.”

"Since the schedule for the U-19 is already done, nothing much could be done. But they will speak to technical committee chairman Sourav Ganguly and take a final call on that," Bhattacharjee, also the convenor of BCCI's North East Cricket Development Committee, said, adding that a separate women's team will also be fielded this season.

The units requested the CoA for disbursement of annual grants and Rai asked them to file an affidavit signed by the association chiefs that 80 per cent recommendations of the Lodha panel is adhered to. "We need at least basic funds to run the show. That's what we told the CoA," Bhattacharjee said, claiming that the CoA will support north-eastern states’ full membership plea in the apex court.

A talent hunt for the U-23 and U-16 will be conducted in October by the State associations to ensure that things fall in place on time.

After years of struggle, the good times seem to be here and the North-East States are in no mood to let it go.