Both the technical committee and the tours and fixtures committee have expressed their premonition regarding the format of the domestic cricket calendar for 2018-19.
The plan drafted by Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) GM Cricket Operations Saba Karim included largest pool of teams after the Committee of Administrators (CoA) insisted on the participation of all new entrants — primarily from the north-east — in domestic cricket.
Technical committee chief Sourav Ganguly's concern is regarding the structuring of India’s premier first class competition – Ranji Trophy – that would have a total of 153 games played across the league and knock-out stages.
According to The Hindu, Ganguly was not consulted before the new calendar was released.
“I wasn’t consulted. (That) meeting had certain other decisions but I am happy to see north-eastern states included as we had suggested. I don’t agree with Elite and Plate groups since the selectors don’t give importance to Plate performances,” said Ganguly.
BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry expressed his apprehension when he told CricketNext, “I have always advocated for the North East states to field their full teams when they participate, this is obviously subject to availability of facilities, logistics etc. However, in the context of these fixtures that you are asking me, all I will say at this stage is that these fixtures do not reflect the decisions taken in the technical committee chaired by Sourav Ganguly and personally, I am somewhat skeptical of the effect that this format would have, especially from the point of view of promotions and relegations in this form.”
The rejigged format will see an addition of nine new teams — Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim and Uttarakhand — in the plate division of Ranji Trophy, to the existing 28 sides in the elite division.
The top 18 teams from the elite group, based on last year’s performance, will be split into two groups of nine teams each, while the remaining 10 will be placed in Group C.
For the quarter finals, five teams from Group A and Group B, two teams from Group C and one team from the plate division will qualify for the quarter-finals.
The top team that qualifies from the plate will be promoted to Group C in the next season. Top two teams qualifying from Group C for the quarters 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.
“This came as a surprise because you have to realise that if you don’t give the plate teams enough time to get ready for the level of competition that is witnessed in the Ranji Trophy and just draft the top team into the knockout stage, you might see their confidence taking a beating because the big boys of the league have been playing for years,” a member of the tours and fixtures committee was quoted saying in CricketNext.
“Also, if the suggestions of the committees don’t mean anything, then why are you wasting time and energy of a legend like Ganguly? You have to understand that overlooking the point of the former India skipper is disrespecting not just the man, but also the committee which has other players with valuable cricketing knowledge,” he added.