The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to conduct a full-fledged domestic season this time around with the Ranji Trophy beginning in December.
The premier domestic tournament is expected to be played between December 13 and February 28, 2022. While there will be four elite groups comprising eight teams each, the plate group will have six teams. There will be seven matches per team in the league stage of the elite group, while plate groups will have five league matches each.
Group-toppers from all the elite groups will be directly qualifying for the quarterfinals, while the second placed teams from all four groups will be ranked amongst them as 5-8 based on points, wins, NRR, quotient - whichever is applicable . The eighth ranked team will play against Plate Group winners in pre-quarterfinals. In the plate group, the top four teams will feature in the semifinals - first vs fourth and second vs third - will play against each other for fifth or sixth place. The semi-final winners will play the plate group final.
Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Baroda, Odisha and Nagaland feature in Elite Group A, while Group B comprises Mumbai, Saurashtra, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Assam. Elite C features Kerala, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Services, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan, Goa, Pondicherry. In Elite D, Punjab is placed along with defending champion Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha, Railways, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh, Tripura.
In the Apex Council meeting in Mumbai on Thursday, the Board office-bearers discussed options to revive the Irani Cup and Duleep Trophy between September 8 and October 5. “It was decided that the Duleep Trophy will be played in a zonal format and we will finalise the dates soon,” a BCCI office-bearer said.
There were discussions on having an U-16 women’s one day tournament. According to the office-bearers, the Board plans to “look at the feasibility and safety of the girls for introducing it as a Zonal tournament with no knockouts.”
During the meeting, the Board also discussed the new gradation for umpires by the Umpires committee after going through the match referees report and watching the videos of the matches. A total of 10 were ranked A+ while 20 fell under the A category. In B category, there were 60 umpires, while in C had 46 plus new umpires who will clear level II examinations. In the D category, there were 11 umpires.
ICC Elite panel umpire Nitin Menon is among the 10 officials grouped in A+ category. The others in the A+ category include Anil Chaudhary, Madangopal Jayaraman, Virender Kumar Sharma and K. N. Ananthapadmanabhan. The others are Rohan Pandit, Nikhil Patwardhan, Ulhas Gandhe, Sadashiv Iyer, Navdeep Sidhu.
There were discussions of conducting a women’s Zonal tournament in T20 and one-dayers between October this year and January 2022. However, the dates will be finalised closer to the tournament.
Prize money increase
The apex council also decided to increase the prize money for all men’s and women’s domestic tournaments. However, the exact figure will be decided by the office-bearers in due course of time.
The BCCI will also start the process for the appointment of a national selector from the West Zone soon. The position has been lying vacant since Abey Kuruvilla’s tenure ended in February. For the last five months, the national selection committee, led by Chetan Sharma, only has four members in the panel.
It is expected that the matter will be ratified in the apex council meeting and the Board will formally invite applications for the position, after which the Cricket Advisory Committee will have to complete the interviews. The head of the CAC, Madan Lal’s term expired last year, and the Board is yet to announce a replacement for him. RP Singh and Sulakshana Naik are the other members of the CAC.