Duleep Trophy, 2009-10 January 30, 2010

Runs galore, but at what cost?

Is it fair to count tons scored in a game of only academic interest and against a not so good bowling attack?
18


Think again: how good was Abhishek Nayar's double-century? © Cricinfo Ltd
 

The recently concluded semi-final between North and West Zone vindicated my point of curtailing the maximum number of overs at a team’s disposal for the knock-out matches. It was, as usual, a batting paradise in Rajkot and both teams knew that the toss might just decide the fate of the match. And boy it did…that too with style.

West scored nearly 800 runs, perhaps the highest in the season, and batted North out of the game. Yes, North could have fought harder and got closer to the total but overhauling it was a forgone conclusion. But what followed after West got a mammoth 465-run lead devalues the importance of a first-class century. West opted for some batting practice instead of going for an outright win which was perhaps there for the taking. But since a first-innings lead was enough to see them through to the finals, they can’t be blamed for not forcing the issue.

Both Pujara and Rohit scored centuries in the second innings. While you can’t blame them for using the opportunity, you can argue the quality of bowling that was thrown at them. Two-thirds of the total overs were bowled by part-time bowlers who would not trouble a front-line batsman, especially on a batting beauty in Rajkot.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not taking anything away from them because it’s not their fault that part-time bowlers were bowling at them. I have also helped myself to a couple of such centuries in my first-class career. The point that I’m trying to make is that does it serve any purpose? All these runs and centuries adds up to the final tally of runs scored in a season which in turn are kept in mind while selecting a player for the next level. But is it fair to count these tons scored in a game of only academic interest and against a not so good bowling attack? I don’t think so.

There are a lot of such games in a season where both teams are playing for the end of the match fully aware that there would be no result. In these matches captains preserve their main bowlers and hence runs are not at a premium.

My suggestion is that the umpires, in consultation with the referee and both the captains, should have the right to call off such games. There may be three sessions left in the game but if both teams are not going to force a result, it’s better to call it off than go through the motions. Till we limit the number of overs or add batting and bowling points in the system, it’s better to do away with such meaningless innings.

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

  • Anonymous on February 6, 2010, 18:42 GMT

    True i agree its useless scoring runs against toothless attacks and gaining false sense of security. I wonder how these batsman will far against consistent sharp bowling around 150 kmph when they only face upto speed limits of 110-120. Really the wickets are to blame...

  • Mohan on February 5, 2010, 13:10 GMT

    True The matches are played for only first innings lead in this season.But when the innings lead is small then the teams go for a win.Also it has to do with the teams strengths and weaknesses plus the teams' attitude.Karnataka,Punjab,and to some extent Tamil Nadu has good bowling units.But West Zone the main culprit for so many draws has a weak bowling unit.So blame it on administration not the players.

  • Atul Bhogle on February 1, 2010, 12:09 GMT

    Would the problem of draws not be solved if we have result oriented pitches?

    That said, West's decision to bat a second time was an utter disgrace. They should be kicked out the competition solely for that! Bombay players have always had this irritating habit.

  • Nick on February 1, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    Give 10 points for a win instead of 5- then a win will be worth substantially more. Or, quit awarding meaningless milestones in a match- a first innings lead isn't a result. If you have a knockout match, the only way to try to settle it would be to give them two chances to get a result- if they have two draws, let one team advance on combined run-rate, if necessary, but don't just settle for something other than a result and call it one.

  • Parthiv Mehta on February 1, 2010, 5:07 GMT

    Why dont we just get rid of the idea of first innings leads? Just make it equal points unless a team wins. That will mean that needless draws are averted and a winning instinct is developed. No team will have the guts to waste time scoring 769, effectively making it a one-innings game. If this also means that 4 day games has to become 5 day matches, then so be it.

  • anubhav sarathy on January 31, 2010, 10:52 GMT

    thank god neo sports telecast the south vs central match..... it wld really have been painful to watch the match u r talking abt,.. akash i really hope someone in the BCCI is reading ur blog... cld do wid some change in the domestic format

  • Ashwath on January 31, 2010, 6:15 GMT

    reduce the number of limited over games, Make wickets more bowler friendly and award points for performance like county cricket and cancel the rule for first innings lead.

  • sudzz on January 31, 2010, 5:58 GMT

    They would do well to dock points for not forcing a win when possible. But its easier said than done.

    I think as suggested by the author, limiting overs is the simplest and easiest to implement solution.

    The second would also be to leave the pitches open and probably unprepared for the last couple of days of the game thereby introducing uncertainty and variable bounce which will inhibit batting practice...

  • Chetan Suryawanshi on January 30, 2010, 22:12 GMT

    Indian first class batsmen aren't as good as their stats suggest. Indian first class bowlers aren't as bad as their stats suggest. Just a sorry state of affairs. The respective states cricket associations have to be held accountable

  • Varun on January 30, 2010, 21:51 GMT

    Well the article does not makes sense, how can on a batting paradise one team can get out for less than 300 against an attack which is just okay(Mind you their attack consist of few Indian team probables but still they are not potent enough). And we are not even talking about a fifth day wearing track. I suppose its more than just blaming the pitch, and north zone batting and bowling was extremely poor (or the west were leagues above the north).

  • Anonymous on February 6, 2010, 18:42 GMT

    True i agree its useless scoring runs against toothless attacks and gaining false sense of security. I wonder how these batsman will far against consistent sharp bowling around 150 kmph when they only face upto speed limits of 110-120. Really the wickets are to blame...

  • Mohan on February 5, 2010, 13:10 GMT

    True The matches are played for only first innings lead in this season.But when the innings lead is small then the teams go for a win.Also it has to do with the teams strengths and weaknesses plus the teams' attitude.Karnataka,Punjab,and to some extent Tamil Nadu has good bowling units.But West Zone the main culprit for so many draws has a weak bowling unit.So blame it on administration not the players.

  • Atul Bhogle on February 1, 2010, 12:09 GMT

    Would the problem of draws not be solved if we have result oriented pitches?

    That said, West's decision to bat a second time was an utter disgrace. They should be kicked out the competition solely for that! Bombay players have always had this irritating habit.

  • Nick on February 1, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    Give 10 points for a win instead of 5- then a win will be worth substantially more. Or, quit awarding meaningless milestones in a match- a first innings lead isn't a result. If you have a knockout match, the only way to try to settle it would be to give them two chances to get a result- if they have two draws, let one team advance on combined run-rate, if necessary, but don't just settle for something other than a result and call it one.

  • Parthiv Mehta on February 1, 2010, 5:07 GMT

    Why dont we just get rid of the idea of first innings leads? Just make it equal points unless a team wins. That will mean that needless draws are averted and a winning instinct is developed. No team will have the guts to waste time scoring 769, effectively making it a one-innings game. If this also means that 4 day games has to become 5 day matches, then so be it.

  • anubhav sarathy on January 31, 2010, 10:52 GMT

    thank god neo sports telecast the south vs central match..... it wld really have been painful to watch the match u r talking abt,.. akash i really hope someone in the BCCI is reading ur blog... cld do wid some change in the domestic format

  • Ashwath on January 31, 2010, 6:15 GMT

    reduce the number of limited over games, Make wickets more bowler friendly and award points for performance like county cricket and cancel the rule for first innings lead.

  • sudzz on January 31, 2010, 5:58 GMT

    They would do well to dock points for not forcing a win when possible. But its easier said than done.

    I think as suggested by the author, limiting overs is the simplest and easiest to implement solution.

    The second would also be to leave the pitches open and probably unprepared for the last couple of days of the game thereby introducing uncertainty and variable bounce which will inhibit batting practice...

  • Chetan Suryawanshi on January 30, 2010, 22:12 GMT

    Indian first class batsmen aren't as good as their stats suggest. Indian first class bowlers aren't as bad as their stats suggest. Just a sorry state of affairs. The respective states cricket associations have to be held accountable

  • Varun on January 30, 2010, 21:51 GMT

    Well the article does not makes sense, how can on a batting paradise one team can get out for less than 300 against an attack which is just okay(Mind you their attack consist of few Indian team probables but still they are not potent enough). And we are not even talking about a fifth day wearing track. I suppose its more than just blaming the pitch, and north zone batting and bowling was extremely poor (or the west were leagues above the north).

  • Vish on January 30, 2010, 20:10 GMT

    What incentive would force teams to go for all out wins instead of first innings lead? First innings lead ought to be rewarded but maybe also factoring in run rate as well as wicket losts and awarding points for the same would restore some parity. And of course the largest points should go to the team that goes for an outright win. Even here an innings victory could garner more points. And wickets in a certain number of overs could also be awarded on a graded basis. I doubt something like this will gain traction both among players and administrators. Since careers are at stake I doubt if people will mess with status quo.

  • Vidyadhar on January 30, 2010, 19:32 GMT

    There is a real need to reform the Ranji and Duleep Trophy system. When only the first innings lead matters the competition becomes just to score as much as possible, over a four day match. Most games peter out to be meaningless exercise after the "important" innings is complete. Of course it takes away all incentive to force a victory. Run rates come down and only idea being to bat as long as possible. Unless model changes and teams are forced to play for a win the system will only breed mediocrity. The teams should be penalised for not trying to win.

  • Keshav Bapat on January 30, 2010, 14:40 GMT

    Yeah, bang on target Akash. but as a solution Limiting overs may not be a good idea, because It may happen that batting first a team scored 500 runs in 150 overs with some difficult period in first session, and then team batting second may get a better batting wicket and score more runs easily. On the other hand there may be one option of keeping a limit on Runs. Say 500 runs, If such a limit is kept than teams have no option but to take wickets to force the results, even to take first innings lead they would need to get team out before scoring 500 runs!! If you like this idea, please take it forward so that it can at least be tried or debated. I dont think such idea has ever been discussed.

  • Srini on January 30, 2010, 14:27 GMT

    Absolutelty true. No weightage should be given to such meaningless centuries and yeah , we might as well cancel the match after the first inings lead id determined. The best solution is to prepare pitches which are not such a farce

  • Bhubnendra on January 30, 2010, 13:49 GMT

    The very essence of a sport is that teams and players compete aggresively to emerge winners otherwise it is just not sport. If the competition is killed at the toss itself or within first one or two days of a four or five days match, it is just ridiculous. Our demostic cricket suffers very badly from this. That is the reason there is hardly any viewer interest in such matches. With so much innovation happening in internation cricket, it is high time some innovative ideas are implemented to make domestic cricket more competitive. Efforts should be made to make the toss less relevant. Allocating equal number of overs to both the team is an excellent idea. Rules should be framed in such a way that teams compete till the very last ball of the match. Fixed and equal number of overs for both innings will definitely make the matches much more intensive. However, I am not sure whether selectors really give much credence to these performances, otherwise they would have selected Parthiv

  • paddle_sweep on January 30, 2010, 12:51 GMT

    Agree with you.The match reached point of ridiculousness when West did not enforce the follow-on.Also,I would like to comment about the captaincy.If this is how Indian domestic captains are going to approach a match then how we would be create match winning situations internationally and how would bowlers learn to bowl-out a team to win the match.

  • Prakash on January 30, 2010, 12:21 GMT

    Spot On Aakash. Also I cannot reason why Points should be awarded for First Innings Lead and how teams can qualify based on that. Then we shd do away the Second Innings totally. Lots of good teams didnt make the Ranji Cut off because of this disparity in the system....

  • Arvind on January 30, 2010, 11:07 GMT

    It is not a question of meaningless innings, but of meaningless matches. Test (and first class) cricket is not cut out for knock-out style matches.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Arvind on January 30, 2010, 11:07 GMT

    It is not a question of meaningless innings, but of meaningless matches. Test (and first class) cricket is not cut out for knock-out style matches.

  • Prakash on January 30, 2010, 12:21 GMT

    Spot On Aakash. Also I cannot reason why Points should be awarded for First Innings Lead and how teams can qualify based on that. Then we shd do away the Second Innings totally. Lots of good teams didnt make the Ranji Cut off because of this disparity in the system....

  • paddle_sweep on January 30, 2010, 12:51 GMT

    Agree with you.The match reached point of ridiculousness when West did not enforce the follow-on.Also,I would like to comment about the captaincy.If this is how Indian domestic captains are going to approach a match then how we would be create match winning situations internationally and how would bowlers learn to bowl-out a team to win the match.

  • Bhubnendra on January 30, 2010, 13:49 GMT

    The very essence of a sport is that teams and players compete aggresively to emerge winners otherwise it is just not sport. If the competition is killed at the toss itself or within first one or two days of a four or five days match, it is just ridiculous. Our demostic cricket suffers very badly from this. That is the reason there is hardly any viewer interest in such matches. With so much innovation happening in internation cricket, it is high time some innovative ideas are implemented to make domestic cricket more competitive. Efforts should be made to make the toss less relevant. Allocating equal number of overs to both the team is an excellent idea. Rules should be framed in such a way that teams compete till the very last ball of the match. Fixed and equal number of overs for both innings will definitely make the matches much more intensive. However, I am not sure whether selectors really give much credence to these performances, otherwise they would have selected Parthiv

  • Srini on January 30, 2010, 14:27 GMT

    Absolutelty true. No weightage should be given to such meaningless centuries and yeah , we might as well cancel the match after the first inings lead id determined. The best solution is to prepare pitches which are not such a farce

  • Keshav Bapat on January 30, 2010, 14:40 GMT

    Yeah, bang on target Akash. but as a solution Limiting overs may not be a good idea, because It may happen that batting first a team scored 500 runs in 150 overs with some difficult period in first session, and then team batting second may get a better batting wicket and score more runs easily. On the other hand there may be one option of keeping a limit on Runs. Say 500 runs, If such a limit is kept than teams have no option but to take wickets to force the results, even to take first innings lead they would need to get team out before scoring 500 runs!! If you like this idea, please take it forward so that it can at least be tried or debated. I dont think such idea has ever been discussed.

  • Vidyadhar on January 30, 2010, 19:32 GMT

    There is a real need to reform the Ranji and Duleep Trophy system. When only the first innings lead matters the competition becomes just to score as much as possible, over a four day match. Most games peter out to be meaningless exercise after the "important" innings is complete. Of course it takes away all incentive to force a victory. Run rates come down and only idea being to bat as long as possible. Unless model changes and teams are forced to play for a win the system will only breed mediocrity. The teams should be penalised for not trying to win.

  • Vish on January 30, 2010, 20:10 GMT

    What incentive would force teams to go for all out wins instead of first innings lead? First innings lead ought to be rewarded but maybe also factoring in run rate as well as wicket losts and awarding points for the same would restore some parity. And of course the largest points should go to the team that goes for an outright win. Even here an innings victory could garner more points. And wickets in a certain number of overs could also be awarded on a graded basis. I doubt something like this will gain traction both among players and administrators. Since careers are at stake I doubt if people will mess with status quo.

  • Varun on January 30, 2010, 21:51 GMT

    Well the article does not makes sense, how can on a batting paradise one team can get out for less than 300 against an attack which is just okay(Mind you their attack consist of few Indian team probables but still they are not potent enough). And we are not even talking about a fifth day wearing track. I suppose its more than just blaming the pitch, and north zone batting and bowling was extremely poor (or the west were leagues above the north).

  • Chetan Suryawanshi on January 30, 2010, 22:12 GMT

    Indian first class batsmen aren't as good as their stats suggest. Indian first class bowlers aren't as bad as their stats suggest. Just a sorry state of affairs. The respective states cricket associations have to be held accountable