Vijay Hazare to precede Ranji Trophy in 2018-19 season

More than 2000 matches are set to be played over the Indian domestic cricket calendar.

Traditionally, the Ranji Trophy is played ahead of the Vijay Hazare trophy in the Indian domestic calendar.   -  R. V. Moorthy

The Indian domestic cricket calendar is set to witness major changes this season. Moving away from the traditional format where Ranji Trophy is played first, followed by the limited overs tournaments, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)--it has been learnt--has decided to conduct the Vijay Hazare Trophy first.

The schedule which has been sent to the state bodies--a copy of which is with Sportstar--states that more than 2000 matches will be played in the season.

While the 50-over tournament will be played from September 19 to October 20, the Deodhar Trophy will be conducted from October 23-27. The Ranji Trophy, the premier tournament, will begin from November 1 and get over on February 6 next year. The Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 series, it is learnt, will get underway on February 21 and continue till March 14.

The Irani Trophy will be played from February 11-15.

The domestic season, however, will  get underway with the women's T20 Challenger Trophy from August 13. The Duleep Trophy will be held between August 17 and September 8.

"In the process, there will be more than 2000 matches played in the season. As of now, that's where things stand," a source in the know of things told Sportstar.

 

Northeast states--Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim have been added to the plate group along with Puducherry and Uttarakhand. That makes the number of participating teams to 37. These teams will also participate in the one-day and domestic T20 leagues.

The Ranji Trophy has been divided into four groups. While nine teams will be there in Group A and B, there will be 10 teams in Group C and nine in plate group. Five teams from Group A and B, two teams from Group C and one team from plate will qualify for the quarterfinals.

The top team which qualifies from the plate will be promoted to Group C in the next season. Top two teams qualifying from Group C for the last eight stages will be elevated to Group A or B. The bottom two teams from Group A and B will be relegated to Group C. Bottom team from Group C will be relegated to plate for the next season.

The Northeast states, however, are not sure how they will prepare in such a short notice. "It rains at that time so preparations will be affected. We will have to talk to the Board about it," a top official from Northeast said.

Some of the state associations have raised questions on the cramped scheduling of tournaments. The northeastern states, which are yet to receive funds from the Board, are concerned about putting up things on time.

"We don't have funds, so at such short time, we don't know how to manage everything," the top official from northeast said.

A senior official from West Zone also admitted that the schedule is quite 'bizzarre' given the infrastructure the state bodies have.

"You cannot have so many fixtures at such short time. There's something called player recovery time and the Board needs to understand that," the official said.

With the season starting in August, there's also question mark on getting grounds ready. "It is raining heavily here and it is impossible to get grounds ready now. How will the players prepare?" the  official questioned.

With this, there's also a possibility of the match referees and umpires bring overworked. The BCCI, however, clarified that the scheduling has been done keeping all factors in mind.

"Yes, it will be a bit challenging but don't worry, we will manage," a very senior BCCI official assured.