November 12, 2009

Ranji Trophy, 2009-10

An unfortunate ban

Aakash Chopra

Dear readers,

Let me make it clear at the outset that I’m neither authorised nor qualified to figure whether Services were justified in refusing to play their Ranji Trophy game against Jammu & Kashmir, in Srinagar. Or whether the BCCI was right in disqualifying the team. I’m writing this just to share the plight of my fellow cricketers.

A player spends a lot of time preparing for the first-class season. It is, therefore, both demoralising and frustrating to be told that his toil during the off- and pre-season has been in vain. And that he must wait a year to make a mark at the national level. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what this ban has done. Not only does it mean that players like Yashpal Singh won’t get a chance to score runs in the Ranji Trophy this year, it has also put an end to the team’s hopes of making it to the knockouts (which means promotion to the Super League), and any player's chance of being picked for North Zone. In these times, a year’s gap pushes you back at least a few seasons because of the intense competition. You are expected to start afresh next season, by which time a lot of players would have cemented their place in different sides.

The Ranji Trophy is also a platform to impress IPL teams, and this ban would now take even that opportunity away from the players. What makes it worse is that not only will players from the Services be deprived of an opportunity to play, but also that every other team in their group in the Plate League will play one match less in the league stage. One match, for teams who don’t qualify for the knockouts, makes up 20% of their first-class season, so players from these teams must perform exceptionally well over four games to be picked for zonal sides.

A cricketing colleague remarked that it was a mess of Services’ own making, that they had no business not turning up for a first-class game. Absolutely right, but what could the players have done once their association informed them that they were not going? The sad part about all this is that players seldom have a say in the decision making process. We are just told what to do and we comply.

If there has been a mistake, which is likely the case here, it demands punitive action. But while punishing the offender is justified, maybe it’s unfair to make the players pay the price. The Ranji Trophy has just turned 75, and it’s a pity if cricket and cricketers are the losers in this.

Ciao

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Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by Manoj on (November 14, 2009, 14:16 GMT)

Quite a qualified piece this, I must say. But satisfying to see something written to address this Services issue. This act of BCCI typifies the nature of their process and the attitude of their conduct, which closely resembles a privately held business. Banning is the last resort in a democratic and pluralistic domain in which we live. Absolutely well dissected is the detrimental effect on individual careers and also to the competitiveness of the season. On a larger issue which lies in the core of this discussion, is a flagrant absence of an effective players body which can take the players' grievances to the Board. I think Akash you possess enough intellect to initiate such a move. This body can perform other roles as well foremost among them is preserving the flair and pace of new pace bowlers on national scence :P .

Cheers Akash !! Keep writing.

Posted by Aakash on (November 14, 2009, 13:47 GMT)

Thanks for your feedback, guys :)

Posted by allinwhites on (November 14, 2009, 12:35 GMT)

Kudos Akash to write about an issue which many others haven't even bothered to notice. I do agree with almost everything that you have said except for one point -- 'the Ranji Trophy is also a platform to impress IPL teams'. I can't believe you have said that. Leave aside the author, just think about someone like Cheteshwar Pujara (your IPL mate)who was discarded midway through the tourney for "lacking T20 skills'. It seems cricketing skills and T20 skills are entirely different!!!

Posted by Piyush sachdeva on (November 13, 2009, 20:58 GMT)

Hi aakash bhaiya...gud luck 4 ur dis ranji session do wel n mah al gud wishs is wid u alwz...n u r mah one of da fav. Batsman...n n one thng more-USE White colour grip instead of other colours...

Posted by Gopal on (November 13, 2009, 13:25 GMT)

Great piece sir! Hope you perform well this season.

Posted by Kunal on (November 13, 2009, 11:20 GMT)

Banning anything or anyone is going to the extreme of any punitive action. In my view, the step was taken only to appease certain sections of the political corridor. Instead, players/association should have been assured that all security measures were in place. What it basically implies is that, I as an individual, do not have the right to raise a finger against the state machinery, even when it's got to do with my security!! How bizarre! Commendable piece Aakash. It takes guts to pick up the pen and right against the order!

Posted by Imraan on (November 13, 2009, 11:13 GMT)

Strange are the ways of Domestic cricket which don't shock me anymore! Well written Aakash, its unfortuante that a talent like you has got stuck in the web of domestic cricket. Wonder how many careers would the management ruin before finally getting it's act together??

Posted by Aravinth on (November 13, 2009, 5:47 GMT)

Nice view Aakash.. btw, I peeped into your site cricketaakash.com. Can you please let me know a place where I can provide my feedback?

Posted by Piyush sachdeva on (November 12, 2009, 16:46 GMT)

Nice views sir. Im agree frm u.This is too much. If u r gng according to the rules den it wil be cut off match fee dats it. No ban n even not a ban for 2-3matches. Wats the fault of players, its totaly depends on the association.

Posted by Paul on (November 12, 2009, 16:28 GMT)

Just floating an idea Sir... Why don't you anchor a chat show on Cricket? Your views need to be heard by a larger audience. Great great blog Sir. Looking forward to your next 'Insider' piece.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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