November 18, 2012

Ranji Trophy, 2012-13

Ranji points system needs an overhaul

Aakash Chopra
Ganesh Satish was part of a 243-run stand for the sixth wicket, Tamil Nadu v Karnataka, Ranji Trophy, Group B, 4th day, Chennai, November 12, 2012
If the pitches aren't going to change anytime soon, how about changing the points system to make the Ranji Trophy more interesting?  © K Sivaraman
Enlarge

RELATED LINKS

The first round of the Ranji Trophy this season kicked off amid much fanfare. Uttar Pradesh defeated a star-studded Delhi team, taking many by surprise. A keen Delhi follower, after reading out the Delhi line-up, announced this team was good enough to face any international side. Not one to jump the gun, I politely told him that putting one across a competent domestic team like UP was likely to stretch them. Fortunately, the pitch in Ghaziabad had something in it for everyone on all four days. In the end, the team that won was the team that outplayed the other, made possible only because of a sporting pitch.

It was also during the first round that another widely-watched game took place in Mumbai, involving Sachin Tendulkar. The match was between Mumbai and a weaker Railways team. As expected, Mumbai held the upper hand in a game that turned out to be a dull draw.

But, still, the first round did throw up some exciting outright results. The second round, though, seems to have made a mockery of the BCCI's brief to the curators for preparing sporting pitches. Two triple-centuries were scored in the second round and in as many as four matches the first innings didn't finish until tea on the fourth day. The match involving UP again drew the most attention, this time for all the wrong reasons. Maharashtra, on a highway, scored 764 in a little over two days, and U.P. couldn't even finish their first innings in the remaining time. What a sad advertisement for the sport!

Pitches remain the most pressing concern for the betterment of Indian cricket. But while changing the nature of certain surfaces and mastering the art of preparing pitches that produce an outright result may take some time, there's something else I'll suggest to make things more interesting in the interim. How about revamping the points system to nullify the significance of taking first-innings lead? How about finding a way to penalise teams for batting for two days?

Here's what I propose for the overhauling of the points system:

Batting and bowling points
Teams should get batting and bowling points for scoring runs and taking wickets, but with a little twist.

Batting
* The batting team shall gain the first batting point after scoring 125 runs, and a point for every 75 runs they score thereafter.

* There will be a maximum of five batting points to be achieved, which means a total of 425 shall be scored to gain maximum points. But this comes with a small rider--batting points would be available only till the 125thover, which will ensure that batting team will have to maintain a healthy run-rate of 3.4 runs per over throughout.

Bowling
* There will one bowling point gained for every two wickets that the bowling team takes. So that's a maximum of five bowling points up for grabs in the innings.

* Unlike the batting points, bowling points will be available till the time opponents are willing to bat.The advantage of this system is that batting teams will be encouraged to score their runs at a better clip, and will be discouraged to bat beyond the 125th over because only the bowling team can gain points past that stage. Also, most teams would be happy to declare when the side is nine down, than give bowling teams a chance.

At this stage we can add a couple of points for the first-innings lead as well.

Since there won't be too many overs left to play in the match, the points system shall change slightly for the second innings.

* There will only be three batting points available (first point at 125 runs and two more at subsequent 75 runs), but the points will be available only till the 60th over.

* As in the first innings, there'll be a maximum of five bowling points available (one point for two wickets) till the batting team bats.

* In the end there'll be a bonus of 10 points for an outright win, which shall be added to the overall tally of the points accumulated by the winning team in that match. While the winning team's kitty would be overflowing, there'll be something for the losing team too, since they'll hang on to their batting/bowling points.

In the current set-up, the losing team walks away empty handed and is therefore always wary of taking risks. The knowledge of taking home substantial points even from a game that they've lost would encourage teams to go that extra yard.

In the current points system, an outright win is revered because of the difference in points gained (six for an outright win and one bonus point for winning with an innings or 10 wickets). Still, that doesn't seem like a good-enough reason for teams (especially the weaker ones) to avoid dishing out a highway, bat for as long as possible and prevent an outright result.

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

RSS Feeds: Aakash Chopra

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Mathew on (December 13, 2012, 11:43 GMT)

Split the 27 team into Two Side.

Renji Premier League(RPL) and Renji League 1(RL1)

In RPL there will be 12 teams and RL1 there will be 15 teams.

Every season the non permorming three teams in RPL will go back to RL1 and Top three team in RL1 will promoted to RPL.

Adopt point system on each innings. Give privite sponsership to each team, so the business also build to entertain the people.

Posted by Rohit Negi on (December 4, 2012, 6:42 GMT)

I do not think much tinkering is needed with the point scheme. Essentially the problem are the pitches. This season, its clear to see that wherever one sees sporting pitches, results ensue (look at Punjab's tally--largely because of playing in Mohali). So the emphasis has to be, unequivocally, on the preparing better pitches. Some people have mentioned how allowing the away team to choose what they wish to do (bat or bowl), which can be tried. But how about some clear disincentives: if a team prepares highways, if they are in group A or B, DEMOTING them to group C? Of if they already are in C, then for each poor track, a HOME GAME is TAKEN AWAY from them for next season? Crises demand such extreme actions, and with the state of long-format cricket in India--including the national team--one needs to do more than tinkering.

Posted by Shiv Mishra on (November 23, 2012, 13:24 GMT)

Dear Aakash,

If aim is to motivate teams to go for win rather than draws, would not simple 3 points for win and 1 point each for draw will suffice? Also, first innings lead to determine winner in case of draw should be completely abolished. Whats the need of finals? Just shorten league size, create 3 tiers instead of 2 and put only 8-9 teams in one tier, and make them play home and away. This will mean, maximum of 70-80 days of first class cricket for each team. Whoever is top of the league after season, will be winner. This will ensure that top teams dont play for 2nd position in their last matches. Also would not be it nice to have first class competation for all major test playing nations, with top 2 teams of each league qualifying for such tournaments. This will remove the necessity of Country A teams. 2 each from Australia, England, Pakistan, SA, India and 1 each from SL, BD,WI,NZ. 2 teams will qualify based on playoffs. divide in 4 groups,max 9 matches (45 days).

Posted by Sridhar Kalyan on (November 21, 2012, 5:52 GMT)

The current points-system is loaded to favor the leaders - Rajasthan managed to benefit from it as it played superbly to take the trophy and join the 'elite'. It would be interesting if we restrict each innings to a maximum of 90 overs - this will ensure avoidance of absurd situations like batting out the first 3-days and defending a horrendous score-line like 779 for 5 decl. !!! The current system is too batsman-focussed and has no incentive for anyone to try and be a good bowler. As a fallout, all pitches are absolutely flat and softies, and so we have champions who are excellent at home and nowhere else!!!

Posted by Ranjichamp on (November 20, 2012, 17:03 GMT)

The suggestions are very short sighted. This will make first class cricket a extended form of one day cricket. What happened to the good old practice of playing a long innings. I like the suggestion for bowling point though.

Posted by Mukesh Sharda on (November 20, 2012, 16:16 GMT)

Since the accent is on results, why not just convert the format into a limited overs 2 innings? It could go something like this:

1. Total overs available for a match: 4 days X 90 overs = 360 overs. 2. Each team gets a total of 180 overs. 3. 120 overs 1st innings and 60 overs 2nd innings is the starting base. 4. The team that bowls and gets the batting team out/declared within the 120 overs gets the bonus of half of the overs left to reach 120 into their quota of overs. 5. Assured outright result at the end of the match. Winning team gets all the points.

Hope to know your views on the same. Thanks.

Posted by Stanley on (November 20, 2012, 11:34 GMT)

Hi! Akash

Cricket should not be a game of mathematics.

Solutions: Pitches & quality bowlers

Posted by Anonymous on (November 20, 2012, 7:25 GMT)

Terrific article Aakash.. This will make Ranji Trophy worth watching for spectators also.. I really get bored when a team bats on after scoring more than 450.. This is 4 day match and other team needs to do hell lot of hardwork to cross 450..

Posted by vikas on (November 20, 2012, 7:22 GMT)

It would be better to suggest less drastic changes. I think the author made a presentation suggesting sweeping changes to the board and expectedly, they were not accepted. Start with changes less drastic and hence with lesser risk for the administrators.

Posted by SouthPaw on (November 20, 2012, 7:20 GMT)

Akash,

I wish to add one more thing to your recommendations. In case of the game being a draw, if the first team had declared their first inning, even if the second team scored more than the first team, they should be given equal points. Case in point is the TN Vs. Karnataka game this season where TN declared their first innings and in response Karnataka outscored them. There was clearly no winner and neither team was superior, therefore, each team should have finished with 2 points. Imagine if TN had not declared?

Comments have now been closed for this article

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.

All articles by this writer