New BAI rules will force Saina Nehwal to play in the Nationals

World number two Saina Nehwal could be seen in action in the next senior nationals after a gap of five years if the Badminton Association of India (BAI) enforces the new Players’ guidelines issued on Thursday in letter and spirit.

In a bid to give a new lease of life to the domestic circuit, BAI has now made it mandatory for all players to participate in the Nationals and two international competitions organised in India by the sport’s governing body.

Players with a world ranking above 40 in singles and 25 in doubles will have to also play in at least one senior ranking tournament while all others will have to play two ranking tournaments in addition to the nationals.

Saina Nehwal. AFP.

According to the new guidelines, if the players fail to adhere to the rules laid down by the BAI, then they can be barred from participating in international tournaments for even six months.

Saina last played in the nationals in 2007 when she won her second national title in Patna. The BAI officials were miffed when the London Olympics bronze medallist pulled out of the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold meet in Lucknow in the first round citing injury. Saina had skipped the tournament the previous year as well.

With most top players choosing to stay away from domestic tournaments and concentrate on boosting their international ranking, the domestic circuit had taken a hit with organisers forcing cancellation of tournaments in the absence of a quality field.

The players would be graded in three categories depending on their international rankings and would be given financial remuneration/contract and the categories will be evaluated twice a month, according to a letter from the BAI to the players on Thursday.

It will now also be mandatory for the players to devote seven days in a calendar year towards promotional activities of BAI.

Salient features of the Guidelines

(A) Participation in the following domestic / International events is mandatory for all players having world ranking including the player having First 25 World Ranking in Singles and first 15 World Ranking in Doubles Participation in the following four tournaments is a MUST for all players meeting the criteria eligibility:-

1) Nationals

2) Super Series in India

3) Indian Badminton League

4) India Grand Prix Gold

(B) Participation of Top Players in the Ranking Prize money Tournaments is mandatory as per the grading given below in each calendar year.

(i) For players in First 25 World Ranking in Singles and first 15 World Ranking in Doubles it is NOT mandatory to play in Major Ranking prize money Tournament.

(ii) Players in World Ranking from 26 - 40 in Singles and from 16 -25 in Doubles have to play in at least one Ranking Prize Money Tournament.

(iii) Rest of the player have to play in minimum of 02 Ranking Prize Money Tournaments.

(iv) The cut-off date of BWF Ranking is to be considered ranking released in first week of Jan and June of each year.