January 25, 2010

Ranji Trophy, 2009-10

Ranji points system needs a makeover

Aakash Chopra


The loop holes in the points system, perhaps, gave Mumbai the leeway to not force the issue and hence find their way through © Cricinfo Ltd
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A bulk of the Ranji Trophy matches played this season were neither won nor lost, they were drawn. So much so, that only one outright win was enough to take Mumbai into the finals this season. The loop holes in the points system, perhaps, gave Mumbai the leeway to not force the issue and hence find their way through.

The BCCI’s scheme of granting one bonus point for every outright win with ten wickets or an innings could prove to be a good attempt in taking things forward. The plan, in fact secured Delhi its place in the Ranji knock-outs. Yet, most teams are not willing to go that extra yard. After all, taking twenty wickets is quite a task, which requires both quality and physical strength amongst the bowlers.

Perhaps, it’s time to give the Ranji Trophy a facelift and make the ‘system’ and the approach a lot more exciting. How about making the first-innings lead not as significant in the scheme of things? How about giving teams a substantial initiative for winning the game?

My suggestion would be to:

a) introduce the system of grace points for batting and bowling b) to either completely do away with the points for first-innings lead, or to give them away nominally.

Sample this – A maximum of five batting points shall be awarded starting with 125 runs on the scorecard. After which the batting team would get a point each for every 75 runs scored till they reach a total of 425 runs, which means a maximum of five batting points. For the bowling team, every two wickets taken would mean a bowling point.

Now to make things a bit more interesting, the batting points would only be available till the 125th over. This essentially means the batting side has to maintain a healthy scoring rate of 3.40 runs per over, ensuring that teams don’t consume time without scoring at a brisk rate. As for the bowling side, they can get bowling points till the entire opposition is bowled out. By doing this the batting side would want to declare after batting for 125 overs as it’s only the bowling side which can gain points after that. Points for the team which bags the first-innings lead could also be granted, though not in excess.

As for the second innings, there should be at least ten points at stake for an outright win. By doing this both teams would try to set up the match in a way where both teams have a realistic chance of winning the game. The team batting last will have a good chance to win the game and hence teams may be tempted to field first on more occasions. This may also negate the impact of the toss on the game.

This system can be followed in the league phase because if some teams still don’t force the issue, they run a risk of finding themselves in the relegation zone very quickly. But for the knockouts, we can put a limit to the maximum number of overs at a team’s disposal (125 overs in the first innings and 100 overs each in the second assuming it’s a five-day match) which in turn would give us an outright result every time.

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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 saikatb on (February 16, 2010, 18:03 GMT)

A 5 day match is an unrestricted form cricket and there in lies its beauty; to remain an interesting form of cricket, there has to be a good contest between bat and ball and which consequently will produce good cricketers. Anything point system proposed here can and will be gamed by the teams involved to gain ranking in the league. I say that in the true spirit of an open game of cricket, there should be no point system based on runs scored or wickets taken at all. Only outright results should be rewarded and rewarded well. Say, 4 points for win, 1 for draw, 0 for loss. A team winning 1 match, loosing 3 should be ranked above a team drawing 4. Keep it simple and keep it open.

Posted by Dev on (January 29, 2010, 13:06 GMT)

I fully agree with the author on the change of points system. Inspite of being a die hard Mumbai fan, i felt a little sheepish, when the trophy was being awarded, only 1 out right win and we are the winners ?! not fair. The rule of bonus point on first innings lead has to be made stringent, teams should be made to earn points on batting and bowling. The idea of points for wickets taken is splendid. Hope the genuine BCCI officials are reading, and not the likes of Modi. IPL is a breeze. Its already collecting muck and will soon lose its flavour. Ranji will stay on.

Posted by Prasad on (January 28, 2010, 16:04 GMT)

Its a very good post. It is hard to believe that Mumbai just won only one match before winning the finals. The 4 day matches should be scrapped and all the teams should play 5 day matches in the Ranji season, then we get to see the matches like this season's finals.

Posted by atul jain on (January 28, 2010, 13:34 GMT)

Your concern is legitimate,I also have an alternative. This is each team playing 90 overs each, and if they are bowled out earlier, choice of extra overs left to the side earning them i.e they may utilise for themselves. This way both the innings are ensured and real talent could be unearthed. Other modalities could worked on this model. Important thing is to have a result at any cost and at the same time enough exposure for both the teams. Toss does not become the deciding factor.

Posted by Bob on (January 28, 2010, 13:07 GMT)

I agree with the writer that something needs to be done about teams choosing to go for a draw instead of an outright win. Maybe some point system like the ICC test rankings. It was disappointing to see Mumbai & other teams not enforce a follow on or put the opposition in to bat. Internationally we are seeing quite a few result oriented Test matches being played out. A point system which favors a team taking a first innings lead effectively destroys the essence of Test Cricket which allows a Team to come back, fighting. eg. India vs Australia (the Laxman, Dravid & Bhajji show), recent SA vs Eng series... The gaps between matches will help as then Teams will not need to 'preserve' their bowlers. The home and away concept would be awesome dimension. Also making the matches full fledged 5 dayers give more time to obtain a result. The point system for runs in stages may be unfair if pitch conditions are taken into consideration. All in all a shake up is reqd.

Posted by Fireclown on (January 28, 2010, 6:49 GMT)

Australia did away with bonus points years ago, our first class games are played on the basis of 2 points for a first innings lead, and 6 points for an outright victory. It works thus, team a leads by 100 runs on first innungs, but team b wins out right....team a gets 2 points, team b gets 6 points. However, if team a leads by 100 on first innings and wins outright, then team a still only receives the 6 points for an outright win. Seems to work well, our test team, for which first class cricket should produce players, is one of the hardest comptitions in the world, and our test teams have dominated for a long while. Could be worth a thought. Australia used the bonus points system in various ways through the 1970's and 80's and our test team then was crap. Work it out for yourself i think

Posted by Ameesh Oza on (January 28, 2010, 3:53 GMT)

I would like to interject that multi-day sports are a dying breed. Cricket is a game not a sport. When people had time and few other interests it made sense to watch the game. Don't get me wrong it is a beautiful sport, but also an anachronism. Modern life does not allow one to spend days, even many hours watching one game. Of course T-20 is not the answer. I would rather watch baseball. And with modern bats and batting wickets and tiny boundaries it becomes even less of a sport. But what to do? Do I just watch the highlights on TV? That's what T-20 is, is it not? We do not even have time to watch one-day games anymore. If Akash can make a case for a compact form that is not like T-20 but more like traditional cricket he would probably be a rich man. My suggestion is T-20 played without helmets, with lighter bats like old and with more masculine boundaries. Now that would even up the field and make it more interesting. One suggestion was to make the balls smaller!! That might work.

Posted by Sachin Fan on (January 28, 2010, 3:28 GMT)

Nice thought and nice posts too. Lucky that Indian cricket has so many ardent followers that think about the domestic game. I think the games should be extended by 30-45 mins everyday to ensure there are atleast 100 overs everyday, then 4 days would be fine. Regarding the distribution of points, I don't think there should be a limit on no of overs, because that is where Test cricket is different from one day. If the focus shifts to no of overs and run rate, then it will be nothing but a extended one day game (Which itself is boring now). Think about a situation where team batting first on a green top takes 100 overs to get to 300 and the other team gets 450 in 100 overs the next day when the sun's out and the wicket is flat. It would be unfair. The beauty about test cricket is so there are so many unpredictable factors that players have to adapt to and perform.

All said and done...nice thoughts by everyone out here! Kudos..!

Posted by paddle_sweep on (January 27, 2010, 16:32 GMT)

Why we can't we have sporting pitches?That would help the country as a whole instead of coming with a point system which is prone to misuse either ways.The only reliable solution that I could think is to have a limited set of teams competing for the Ranji trophy and let us produce result oriented pitches instead of flat tracks and let's make Ranji Trophy from Q/F as 5 day affairs.

Posted by Nakshatrika on (January 27, 2010, 14:45 GMT)

This is a good thought. But little flawed. Think of a team making 200 on a difficult pitch getting less points compared to a team scoring 425 on batting first, conceeding 425 to opposition and back again to make 425 and taking away maximum batting points on a flat track ensuring match ends in draw. More sadness if both the teams getting to 200 in their first innings on a bowling track and match being washed away. This points system is flawed. Instead there should be a calculation based on batting average (runs/wicket) and same for bowling. This will take away the beauty from field to calculators :(

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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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