The sad case of Ratra

V.V. KRISHNAN

There are a dozen more like Ajay Ratra who have not been able to switch over to another state. While there should be rules for inter-state transfer of players, the existing rules appear to be more a hindrance than a guideline to the growth of players.

Twenty-five year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Ajay Ratra, who scored a timely unbeaten century in his third Test against the West Indies at Antigua in 2002 when he was 20, must be wondering what he needs to do to get into the Ranji Team.

He has scored more than 2000 first class runs. He seems to be a victim of local politics as Haryana didn't select him for the past two seasons, and when he wanted to play for Goa this season, he was late in applying to the BCCI for the transfer.

There are a dozen more like Ajay Ratra who have not been able to switch over to another state. While there definitely should be rules for inter-state transfer of players, the existing rules appear to be more a hindrance than a guideline to the growth of players.

Why does a player opt to play for another state? The reason is he is not wanted by his state and another state is keen to have him. Why then should he be stopped from going over to that state, and why should there be a deadline?

In the case of Ajay Ratra, Goa took the decision to play him late and the deadline of October 1 was over. His home team, the Haryana Cricket Association, could have asked for special permission from the BCCI, but its President, Ranbir Singh Mahendra, did not want to ask for a favour. So Ratra has found himself out of the Haryana team for three seasons including the current one.

There are two rules. One, there can't be more than three guest/professional players in a team of 15 in any category.

And two, a player is eligible to play for the state only if he is born in the state or is employed one year prior to the inter-state BCCI tournament.

As regards the rule for guest players, earlier there was no restriction on the number of players in a team of 15, but no team was allowed to play more than three in the final team. Now the rule is amended to three in a team of 15.

The problem is that if any of the guest players is either injured or selected for the country, the state can't replace the guest player.

The Maharashtra Cricket Association couldn't hire the services of any foreign player as they had already registered three guest players. And now that Munaf Patel is with the Indian team, they have no other guest player to replace him.

Take the case of Dodda Ganesh of Karnataka who is an excellent competitor and has won many games for Karnataka.

He too was late for the submission of the no-objection certificate as he didn't get the clearance from Goa in time. Ganesh and Ratra not playing for Goa is Goa's loss as the team would have gained from their experience.

The BCCI should review the inter-state transfer rule and get rid of the deadline process. If the associations have no problem with a player leaving and playing for another state, why should he be deprived of his livelihood?

There are many associations who need experienced cricketers for them to do well. Assam has been doing well thanks to guest players, and that will boost cricket in Assam.

The problem is top state associations have too many quality players, and not all can get selected. Why not let them play for another state?

At the moment, these quality players are not allowed to play for another state because of inter-state transfer rules.

We do not have such a glut of talented players in domestic cricket that we can afford to leave them on the sidelines because of senseless regulations. Would it not make better sense to sacrifice obstructive rules for the players and the game, rather than the other way round?