India news March 4, 2013

Conclave to reflect on changes to domestic cricket

The coaches and captains of all the 27 domestic teams affiliated to the BCCI will participate in a conclave at a five-star hotel in Mumbai on Tuesday. Though the conclave has become an annual fixture for the last half a dozen seasons, it will be the first time all the participating teams will give their feedback to the major changes that were introduced for the 2012-13 season.

Some of the major changes included converting the Ranji Trophy to a tournament comprising three groups of nine teams each from a two-tier format and introducing an additional point for an outright victory. In the 50-over format, the changes involved allowing a bowler to bowl up to two bouncers an over and one bowler bowl a maximum of 12 overs. Plus, the Under-22 domestic championship was replaced by an Under-25 tournament. The changes were introduced after a three-member committee comprising former India captains Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble, and Sanjay Jagdale, consulted with the BCCI's technical committee. The proposals were then ratified by the BCCI's working committee.

Kumble, who has since replaced Ganguly as the technical committee chairman, will be in attendance at the conclave as a 'special invitee' along with the head of the ground and pitches committee Daljit Singh. The latter's presence will be important in the wake of the BCCI issuing a directive to the curators across the country to prepare sporting pitches ahead of the Ranji Trophy after expanding the committee's strength from five to 12.

Some of the captains and coaches will raise the issue of how instruction seems to have been misinterpreted and misused. "Agreed that there have hardly been any under-prepared tracks this season, [but] the result has been too many flat beds. Have we ever seen five triple-centuries in a season in the history of Ranji Trophy?" said a captain of a state team, citing anonymity.

While the Ranji Trophy points system is again going to be discussed, a few representatives will also demand the knock-out games be played at neutral venues. "That could be the only option in avoiding such crucial ties to be decided on the basis of the first innings," another captain said. In the recently-concluded first-class season, four of the seven knock-out ties - three quarter-finals and a semi-final - were decided on the basis of a first-innings lead.

Some of the teams have also been unhappy with the conversion of the CK Nayudu Trophy from an Under-22 tournament to an Under-25 competition. It remains to be seen if Kumble agrees with them on the contentious issues.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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