Re-structure the domestic calendar

The plethora of tournaments in India does pose several problems and hence it becomes imperative for the BCCI to reflect on whether some tournaments can be done away with. In case the BCCI decides not to scrap any tournament, the other option is to start the domestic season by August.

It is rather a shame that the Irani Trophy, that was considered as the most premier trophy in the past, has been reduced to yet another item in the domestic calendar. It marked the start of the domestic season but that practice was done away with because the National Selection Committee ended up picking the Rest of India side based on the previous year’s performances. Therefore, in order to make it meaningful, the Irani Trophy is played immediately after the conclusion of the Ranji Trophy. However, the importance of the Irani Trophy has ebbed away consistently and unfortunately it does not seem to serve any purpose. Currently, Karnataka, the National Champions, are playing the Rest of India side but quite obviously the players are aware that any worthwhile performance in this game may be recognised only some time later. No doubt the selectors will be watching the match but if they see anything exciting, they will reward the performances in this match only a few months later.

If at all there is anything that is constant, change is it. That has brought about various changes in the scheduling of different tournaments in the domestic calendar. But the fact remains that the timing of the tournaments are way off course in terms of them serving any purpose. Hopefully, the restructuring of the ICC will help in revamping the domestic calendar to be more purposeful. The FTP that was in place all these years in a way proved to be a deterrent in making the domestic calendar relevant to the overall picture. Now that the bilateral series will be the mantra, it will become easier for the fixtures committee to plan the Indian domestic calendar better. Besides, the appointment of M. V. Sridhar as the chief of cricket operations will ensure that someone will be monitoring these issues.

The plethora of tournaments in India does pose several problems and hence it becomes imperative for the BCCI to reflect on whether some tournaments can be done away with. In case the BCCI decides not to scrap any tournament, the other option is to start the domestic season by August. The monsoon patterns have to be taken into account but at least the time frame available will be more to complete all the tournaments without sacrificing their relevance. The IPL is deemed as the most important event for obvious reasons and as such an early start to the domestic season will provide the players a break of at least 3 to 4 weeks before its commencement. “IPL is the best physio in the World,” the quip from a former Indian captain conveys a lot.

As of now, there is a feeling that most players are particular about not getting injured lest they miss out on the IPL. A break of 4 weeks before the IPL will motivate the Indian players to give their all during the first class season. In addition, a break will recharge the players which in turn will result in them playing at their best during the IPL. With the IPL auction set to conclude shortly, I am sure there will be some whining about the players not giving it their best in the Vijay Hazare and Mushtaq Ali tournaments which are scheduled during the month of March. I do agree that professionals are meant to do the job irrespective of odds but if the system has allowed certain privileges, the best way forward is to structure the domestic calendar to achieve the best of both worlds. By this I mean the relevance (with relation to selection of teams) and quality (with players giving their best) are achieved. This is perhaps the biggest challenge that M. V. Sridhar ( in pic.) will encounter. He has been on both sides of the fence and therefore he will be expected to succeed in overcoming the hurdles.