Focus on pay hike, Ranji format at BCCI conclave

The domestic teams’ captains and coaches made no bones about asking for the reversal of the Ranji Trophy from last year’s neutral venue concept to the tried and tested home-and-away format. They also sought revision of match fees for domestic cricketers

Mumbai’s Aditya Tare and Gujarat’s Parthiv Patel attend the BCCI’s domestic captains and coaches conclave in Mumbai on Tuesday.   -  th


As expected, the domestic teams’ captains and coaches made no bones about asking for the reversal of the Ranji Trophy from last year’s neutral venue concept to the tried and tested home-and-away format during the annual conclave held at the Wankhede Stadium premises on Tuesday. The two-hour-long meeting, attended by a plethora of domestic stalwarts and members of the BCCI and court-appointed Committee of Administrators, also dissected various aspects of a possible increase in match fees for domestic cricketers.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh had set the ball rolling by requesting India head coach Anil Kumble to pitch for a revision of the mode of payment to domestic cricketers. While Harbhajan skipped the meeting, others like Uttar Pradesh captain Suresh Raina, Gujarat’s Parthiv Patel, Baroda’s Irfan Pathan, Chhattisgarh captain Mohammad Kaif and Karnataka captain R. Vinay Kumar, are understood to have also asked for a revision of match-fees.

Major points of discussion
  • Hike in match fee for domestic cricketers
  • To reintroduce the home-and-away format for Ranji Trophy
  • Post-match reports to improve quality of umpiring
  • Increase the gap between Ranji Trophy matches during the league stage.
  • To make Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy as an inter-state all-India knockout tournament again.

The domestic cricketers’ match-fees are proportionate to the BCCI’s income, excluding income from ICC and IPL. While requesting the BCCI officials to include all streams of income under the BCCI income umbrella, some of the Ranji team captains also sought to do way with the parity in match fee of India’s domestic cricketers with that of cricketers from Australia and England.

The BCCI officials are of the opinion that unless the state associations start offering annual contracts to its cricketers, it would be difficult for domestic cricketers to get a fillip when it comes to financial security.

Neutral venue conundrum

A majority of coaches and captains requested the BCCI to revert to the home-and-away format for Ranji Trophy, detailing the reasons why it didn’t work. Some of the team representatives from the lower rungs of Ranji Trophy supported the experiment. The suggestions will now be passed on to the technical committee, headed by Sourav Ganguly, who couldn’t attend Tuesday’s meeting.

There was a suggestion from the BCCI that with the home associations tinkering with wickets, the BCCI may appoint curators to prepare pitches even if it reverts to home-and-away format. A view was also expressed about the possibility of doing away with the toss and offering the visiting team the choice of batting or fielding to negate the home advantage.

While CoA member Ramachandra Guha termed the conclave “educative and interesting”, BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary said the captains and coaches had an open discussion on all aspects, especially the pros and cons of neutral venue experiments.

“There were views supporting both formats. Instead of making a calculation of how many people were on which side, the points made to substantiate a certain position have been collated and will be brought to the working committee and the general body,” said Choudhary.

Uttar Pradesh captain Suresh Raina and BCCI acting president C.K. Khanna coming out after the conclave in Mumbai on Tuesday.   -  Vivek Bendre

Other issues

Umpiring standards and appointments were also discussed threadbare with many captains demanding stricter checks and balances on the umpires’ appointment for big matches. It was also demanded that the reports on umpires by captain and umpire’s coach be retrieved to improve the quality of umpiring.

Besides, the captain and coaches were vociferous in asking for retrieval of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy from inter-zonal to the original inter-state all-India knockouts. The inter-zonal knockout leg, tried out for the 2016-17 season on the insistence of axed BCCI president Anurag Thakur, turned out to be a farce.

It was also pointed out that the gap between Ranji Trophy league stage matches should be widened to at least four days all through the season. Since the domestic calendar is cramped, it was also suggested that converting the Ranji Trophy league from the existing three-tier system with group of nine, nine and ten teams, to a four-tier group stage with seven teams each will add more breathing space in the calendar.

Delhi goes unrepresented

Delhi was the only team that went unrepresented because the coach, K. P. Bhaskar, was given wrong information about the date and venue by the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA).

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