Indian domestic cricket January 9, 2010

Ease the workload, increase the output

 
17


Each domestic team should play at least eight first-class games © Cricinfo Ltd
 

Six different trophies, three different formats, all crammed up into a five- month window - India’s domestic season runs at a breakneck speed. To make matters a wee bit tougher for the players, only a three-day breather is granted between first-class matches (in the league phase) and even lesser between the shorter formats.

Perhaps, one wouldn’t have whined over this ‘cricket congestion’ if it had served the purpose it had accidentally set for itself. One would assume that a choc-a-block schedule like this, might amount to teams and players getting a lot more games to showcase their talent. Unfortunately though, this isn’t exactly how it transpires on the ground.

Would you believe if I were to tell you that quite a few teams/players play only five first-class matches in these five months - a match a month? And those five matches get over in five straight weeks. All hell would break loose if one gets injured or goes out of form during these five weeks. There’s hardly any scope of recuperating from an injury or regaining form in such a short time. Odds often stack up when time runs out.

To this crisis, add another five matches each of 50 overs, yet another set of pressure-laden Twenty20s and the team’s fortunes of an unyielding season get sealed.

This is pretty much the story of those teams playing in the Plate division, which unfortunately do not qualify for the knock-outs in all the three formats. There are eight such teams in the Plate division which is nearly a third of the total number of teams (27) playing in the Ranji Trophy.

But things are quite different for the teams that make up the Elite division. More number of teams in this division (15) mean more matches, and more matches in turn mean more chances of displaying and polishing one’s skill. Six teams out of 15 in the Elite division qualify for the knock-outs as opposed to two from 12 in the Plate division. Also, players playing in the Elite division get noticed a lot more which in turn brightens up their chances of getting a place in the Zonal side for the Duleep Trophy. All of this puts the this division players on a higher pedestal, something which perhaps has hitherto not been taken into account.

In my opinion, talent without opportunities is as bad as having no talent at all. In order to give everyone equal number of outings, we must change the existing system of distinction between Elite and Plate division.

My suggestion would be to divide the 27 teams into three groups/divisions of nine teams each instead of the existing two. This set up would ensure each team play a minimum of eight first-class games. The winners could be decided through knock-outs. This revamped order is sure to consume more time and hence might even take a toll on the Duleep Trophy. Yet, it would be an idea worth a thought. After all, the Duleep Trophy is also a knock-out tournament and only one team can play three games, i.e. the team playing the quarter-finals also ends up playing the finals. The rest play either one or two games at the most.

Counterparts in Australia and South Africa host 10 first-class games for each team, while the number shoots up to 16 in England. The idea is simply to provide the players with a) equal and ample opportunities to showcase their talent, and b) a less complicated roaster which leaves the players the time to recover and get back.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • escort services London on July 8, 2010, 8:16 GMT

    It is rather interesting for me to read the post. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read more soon. BTW, rather nice design you have at this blog, but what do you think about changing it once in a few months?

    Natasha Pingtown

  • Emily FunnyGuy on May 11, 2010, 3:40 GMT

    Truly great post u have here. It'd be just great to read something more concerning this topic. Thnx for sharing that data.

  • Harish on January 15, 2010, 4:24 GMT

    I do read all the articles of the Insider as well, Just that I feel that even beyond the blues can go beyond just questioning the current setup and suggesting improvements (I must say he does that pretty well), Just that he is best at writing about cricket, players and giving gyaan on the Ranji cricket scene. Just my opinion. To each his own isn't it?

  • Chinmay on January 13, 2010, 17:45 GMT

    I would like to see just one Elite group instead of two, and that too composed of 10 teams in (down from the current 15) This leaves the two plate groups with 8 teams each giving them 7 FC games. Each season, the bottom 2 of the Elite group relegate, the next four bottom placed teams (positions 5-8) play in a relegation play off and the top 4 qualify for semis. For Plate group, top team in each group gets a direct promotion to Elite and the second and third placed teams play against each other for the 3rd and 4th promotion spot.

  • Anonymous on January 13, 2010, 16:18 GMT

    hi Akash, I think the way of evalutaion should not be solely based on the first innings lead, but at the same point point we cannot neglect the lead as well , the number of points earned by a team sholud be decided by the final status of the match and also there should be more sporting wickets to play the ranji matches .

  • Sanjay on January 13, 2010, 13:21 GMT

    Harish, Aakash is writing about the nuances of the game in his widely read column The Insider...I don't know the frequency of his articles but I suggest you to read that. Cheers.

  • Harish on January 13, 2010, 9:32 GMT

    Hi Akash, I have read your book as well as most of your blogs over the past 2 yrs or so. Please treat my comment as a honest suggestion and constructive feedback. Your entries seem to focus on the scheduling, operational aspects of BCCI, pitches and a string of other things that are not cricket related per se. If you wish to use this as a forum to try if it can be seen by BCCI officials or generate public opinion around the same - I could see some point. In my opinion, I have enjoyed your articles on the mental, physical and strategy aspects of the game. Use your analysis to spread knowledge about the game we all love. Operational nitpickings are not as important as the game itself. I had this comment about the book as well, hence the post. Thanks!

  • David on January 13, 2010, 8:54 GMT

    My 2 cents.

    1) Have 3 Groups of 9 each. Let the Top 2 qualify for a super six league and then the top 2 perhaps can play a KO final to be the ranji champion. The champion would have then played 13 Games. 2) Stop giving points for First innings Lead, This will discourage teams from playing for "Batting practice". 3) Change the format to 5-Day at all phases. You will get more results.

  • Krish on January 12, 2010, 22:08 GMT

    But quantity didn't add to quality in the past. Right? You play one game against Mumbai or TN or Delhi and prove your worth. I would want to have 5 day games for all knock-outs and in sporting wickets like Mohali or Mysore. That is cricket in even terms. Not run pilers like Wasim Jaffer batting day and night scoring 300. That is useless cricket.

  • Sanjay on January 12, 2010, 19:23 GMT

    I completely agree with your suggestion of min 8 first class matches. We will have to be little innovative and daring in re-structuring the leagues. First, we will have to reduce number of first class teams to 24 (20 would be better). More is not merrier. We will have to consolidate few teams. Vidarbha, Goa, Tripura or Jharkhand (& likewise) need not be a separate team. They can be merged to neighbouring teams. May be, pre-qualification tourney to identify star players could be need of the hour.

    Less team will increase to quality of players and overall, competition level. Also it would be easier for match scheduler.

    All knock-outs (incl QFs, SFs) should be 5-day affairs and played in neutral venues & sporting wickets so that matches are not decided on first-innings lead. Start the session from Sep and play the games on those locations where rain is not a threat in Sep-Oct (such as Tamil Nadu, Hyderabad or deep North).

    My 2 cents

  • escort services London on July 8, 2010, 8:16 GMT

    It is rather interesting for me to read the post. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read more soon. BTW, rather nice design you have at this blog, but what do you think about changing it once in a few months?

    Natasha Pingtown

  • Emily FunnyGuy on May 11, 2010, 3:40 GMT

    Truly great post u have here. It'd be just great to read something more concerning this topic. Thnx for sharing that data.

  • Harish on January 15, 2010, 4:24 GMT

    I do read all the articles of the Insider as well, Just that I feel that even beyond the blues can go beyond just questioning the current setup and suggesting improvements (I must say he does that pretty well), Just that he is best at writing about cricket, players and giving gyaan on the Ranji cricket scene. Just my opinion. To each his own isn't it?

  • Chinmay on January 13, 2010, 17:45 GMT

    I would like to see just one Elite group instead of two, and that too composed of 10 teams in (down from the current 15) This leaves the two plate groups with 8 teams each giving them 7 FC games. Each season, the bottom 2 of the Elite group relegate, the next four bottom placed teams (positions 5-8) play in a relegation play off and the top 4 qualify for semis. For Plate group, top team in each group gets a direct promotion to Elite and the second and third placed teams play against each other for the 3rd and 4th promotion spot.

  • Anonymous on January 13, 2010, 16:18 GMT

    hi Akash, I think the way of evalutaion should not be solely based on the first innings lead, but at the same point point we cannot neglect the lead as well , the number of points earned by a team sholud be decided by the final status of the match and also there should be more sporting wickets to play the ranji matches .

  • Sanjay on January 13, 2010, 13:21 GMT

    Harish, Aakash is writing about the nuances of the game in his widely read column The Insider...I don't know the frequency of his articles but I suggest you to read that. Cheers.

  • Harish on January 13, 2010, 9:32 GMT

    Hi Akash, I have read your book as well as most of your blogs over the past 2 yrs or so. Please treat my comment as a honest suggestion and constructive feedback. Your entries seem to focus on the scheduling, operational aspects of BCCI, pitches and a string of other things that are not cricket related per se. If you wish to use this as a forum to try if it can be seen by BCCI officials or generate public opinion around the same - I could see some point. In my opinion, I have enjoyed your articles on the mental, physical and strategy aspects of the game. Use your analysis to spread knowledge about the game we all love. Operational nitpickings are not as important as the game itself. I had this comment about the book as well, hence the post. Thanks!

  • David on January 13, 2010, 8:54 GMT

    My 2 cents.

    1) Have 3 Groups of 9 each. Let the Top 2 qualify for a super six league and then the top 2 perhaps can play a KO final to be the ranji champion. The champion would have then played 13 Games. 2) Stop giving points for First innings Lead, This will discourage teams from playing for "Batting practice". 3) Change the format to 5-Day at all phases. You will get more results.

  • Krish on January 12, 2010, 22:08 GMT

    But quantity didn't add to quality in the past. Right? You play one game against Mumbai or TN or Delhi and prove your worth. I would want to have 5 day games for all knock-outs and in sporting wickets like Mohali or Mysore. That is cricket in even terms. Not run pilers like Wasim Jaffer batting day and night scoring 300. That is useless cricket.

  • Sanjay on January 12, 2010, 19:23 GMT

    I completely agree with your suggestion of min 8 first class matches. We will have to be little innovative and daring in re-structuring the leagues. First, we will have to reduce number of first class teams to 24 (20 would be better). More is not merrier. We will have to consolidate few teams. Vidarbha, Goa, Tripura or Jharkhand (& likewise) need not be a separate team. They can be merged to neighbouring teams. May be, pre-qualification tourney to identify star players could be need of the hour.

    Less team will increase to quality of players and overall, competition level. Also it would be easier for match scheduler.

    All knock-outs (incl QFs, SFs) should be 5-day affairs and played in neutral venues & sporting wickets so that matches are not decided on first-innings lead. Start the session from Sep and play the games on those locations where rain is not a threat in Sep-Oct (such as Tamil Nadu, Hyderabad or deep North).

    My 2 cents

  • mukesh kunal on January 11, 2010, 10:10 GMT

    hi!!! Aakash a very happy new year to u. As i am writing my first comment to you for this year 2010.Well i do agree with your point that the format should be such that each domestic side atleast play 8 first class games.But the fact is that if such format is implemented by the BCCI then it will take a long time to finish the tournament.Which is not possible.And the plate group are the sufferers all the time because they are unable to play with the tougher oppositions like Mumbai, Delhi etc.So the player doesn't get much opportunity to show their talent and potential to get a place in the National team.Well there are a few exceptions like MS Dhoni who has shown that what at the end of the day matters is talent and not the side for which u are playing.And also the other problems are Plate group players don't get good coaches.Who can give them some extra tips so that they can come good with better and tough oppositions.At last i wanna say that BCCI should give a thought to this.

  • Ashok on January 11, 2010, 6:55 GMT

    I think the current system is quite decent. The two best plate teams get to go to the quarter finals of the elite league. If anything, they could abolish the groups in each league, have it as round robin, and make each team play twice as many matches. And with 50 overs and 20-20 tournaments crowding the season, Duleep trophy can be abolished.

  • sivananda on January 11, 2010, 2:38 GMT

    Akash, i totally disagree you with your idea breaking the super league and plate league in to three groups,simply there is lack of quality in the plate teams.Just browse through their squads you can see that it contains some good oldies from other states.It is not the quantity but the quality that matters that is why such a distiction was made.But could n't agree more on cramped schedule though;Duleep trophy needs to be revamped to make sure players can FC matches throughout

  • sivananda on January 11, 2010, 2:37 GMT

    Akash, i totally disagree you with your idea breaking the super league and plate league in to three groups,simply there is lack of quality in the plate teams.Just browse through their squads you can see that it contains some good oldies from other states.It is not the quantity but the quality that matters that is why such a distiction was made.But could n't agree more on cramped schedule though;Duleep trophy needs to be revamped to make sure players can FC matches throughout

  • Vivek Gupta on January 10, 2010, 21:11 GMT

    While i agree with the problem you identify in this piece i dont agree with your solution. I remember the old days a team like Delhi will play Services and pile on runs. The new set up has improved the competition tremendously. These days there are hardly any teams in Elite groups which are roll overs. It has surely made things more interesting. The problem of less number of games in Plate group can be fixed by increasing the number of teams. States like Utrakhand and Bihar deserve their own teams so cricketers like Pawan Suyal get opportunities to represent their own state. I suggest that total number of teams is increased to 32, 16 each in Elite and Plate. That will ensure that each team gets to play at least 7 games. I also feel that Zonal competitions need to be replaced with IPL like competitions for One day and Longer version of game. That will make sure that IPL teams also hire cricketers who are more suited for longer versions of game.

  • Deepak Azad on January 10, 2010, 18:16 GMT

    5 months seems a very short time, it can be expanded a bit. Also I would keep both the league and knockouts, as playing in finals builds big game temperament.

  • gopal on January 10, 2010, 17:41 GMT

    In India, cricket can be played in most times of the year. There is no point in starting the season in december and end it in march. Even a september start would be a great idea. Also, if the first class games and List A games can be mixed, it gives more time between first class matches and also helps players to recover from injuries . loss of form. I agree to three divisions.. but i do not agree the winner be decided on a knock out basis. A league should be a league and the winner should be the winner of the league. Not on knock out basis. Even this season, Mumbai has no rights to be in the finals.. it would be worse for Indian cricket if Karnataka could not lift the trophy after a wonderful season of flawless cricket!

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  • gopal on January 10, 2010, 17:41 GMT

    In India, cricket can be played in most times of the year. There is no point in starting the season in december and end it in march. Even a september start would be a great idea. Also, if the first class games and List A games can be mixed, it gives more time between first class matches and also helps players to recover from injuries . loss of form. I agree to three divisions.. but i do not agree the winner be decided on a knock out basis. A league should be a league and the winner should be the winner of the league. Not on knock out basis. Even this season, Mumbai has no rights to be in the finals.. it would be worse for Indian cricket if Karnataka could not lift the trophy after a wonderful season of flawless cricket!

  • Deepak Azad on January 10, 2010, 18:16 GMT

    5 months seems a very short time, it can be expanded a bit. Also I would keep both the league and knockouts, as playing in finals builds big game temperament.

  • Vivek Gupta on January 10, 2010, 21:11 GMT

    While i agree with the problem you identify in this piece i dont agree with your solution. I remember the old days a team like Delhi will play Services and pile on runs. The new set up has improved the competition tremendously. These days there are hardly any teams in Elite groups which are roll overs. It has surely made things more interesting. The problem of less number of games in Plate group can be fixed by increasing the number of teams. States like Utrakhand and Bihar deserve their own teams so cricketers like Pawan Suyal get opportunities to represent their own state. I suggest that total number of teams is increased to 32, 16 each in Elite and Plate. That will ensure that each team gets to play at least 7 games. I also feel that Zonal competitions need to be replaced with IPL like competitions for One day and Longer version of game. That will make sure that IPL teams also hire cricketers who are more suited for longer versions of game.

  • sivananda on January 11, 2010, 2:37 GMT

    Akash, i totally disagree you with your idea breaking the super league and plate league in to three groups,simply there is lack of quality in the plate teams.Just browse through their squads you can see that it contains some good oldies from other states.It is not the quantity but the quality that matters that is why such a distiction was made.But could n't agree more on cramped schedule though;Duleep trophy needs to be revamped to make sure players can FC matches throughout

  • sivananda on January 11, 2010, 2:38 GMT

    Akash, i totally disagree you with your idea breaking the super league and plate league in to three groups,simply there is lack of quality in the plate teams.Just browse through their squads you can see that it contains some good oldies from other states.It is not the quantity but the quality that matters that is why such a distiction was made.But could n't agree more on cramped schedule though;Duleep trophy needs to be revamped to make sure players can FC matches throughout

  • Ashok on January 11, 2010, 6:55 GMT

    I think the current system is quite decent. The two best plate teams get to go to the quarter finals of the elite league. If anything, they could abolish the groups in each league, have it as round robin, and make each team play twice as many matches. And with 50 overs and 20-20 tournaments crowding the season, Duleep trophy can be abolished.

  • mukesh kunal on January 11, 2010, 10:10 GMT

    hi!!! Aakash a very happy new year to u. As i am writing my first comment to you for this year 2010.Well i do agree with your point that the format should be such that each domestic side atleast play 8 first class games.But the fact is that if such format is implemented by the BCCI then it will take a long time to finish the tournament.Which is not possible.And the plate group are the sufferers all the time because they are unable to play with the tougher oppositions like Mumbai, Delhi etc.So the player doesn't get much opportunity to show their talent and potential to get a place in the National team.Well there are a few exceptions like MS Dhoni who has shown that what at the end of the day matters is talent and not the side for which u are playing.And also the other problems are Plate group players don't get good coaches.Who can give them some extra tips so that they can come good with better and tough oppositions.At last i wanna say that BCCI should give a thought to this.

  • Sanjay on January 12, 2010, 19:23 GMT

    I completely agree with your suggestion of min 8 first class matches. We will have to be little innovative and daring in re-structuring the leagues. First, we will have to reduce number of first class teams to 24 (20 would be better). More is not merrier. We will have to consolidate few teams. Vidarbha, Goa, Tripura or Jharkhand (& likewise) need not be a separate team. They can be merged to neighbouring teams. May be, pre-qualification tourney to identify star players could be need of the hour.

    Less team will increase to quality of players and overall, competition level. Also it would be easier for match scheduler.

    All knock-outs (incl QFs, SFs) should be 5-day affairs and played in neutral venues & sporting wickets so that matches are not decided on first-innings lead. Start the session from Sep and play the games on those locations where rain is not a threat in Sep-Oct (such as Tamil Nadu, Hyderabad or deep North).

    My 2 cents

  • Krish on January 12, 2010, 22:08 GMT

    But quantity didn't add to quality in the past. Right? You play one game against Mumbai or TN or Delhi and prove your worth. I would want to have 5 day games for all knock-outs and in sporting wickets like Mohali or Mysore. That is cricket in even terms. Not run pilers like Wasim Jaffer batting day and night scoring 300. That is useless cricket.

  • David on January 13, 2010, 8:54 GMT

    My 2 cents.

    1) Have 3 Groups of 9 each. Let the Top 2 qualify for a super six league and then the top 2 perhaps can play a KO final to be the ranji champion. The champion would have then played 13 Games. 2) Stop giving points for First innings Lead, This will discourage teams from playing for "Batting practice". 3) Change the format to 5-Day at all phases. You will get more results.