India domestic news January 2, 2010

Wasim Jaffer and Vijay Dahiya unhappy with hectic schedule

A year after the BCCI crammed the Indian domestic schedule to accommodate the IPL and the Champions League Twenty20, coaches and captains of state teams are virtually up in arms against the move. Their main objection is the three-day gap between matches in the on-going Ranji Trophy. Such a small break between games, they believe, is making players vulnerable to injury.

Vijay Dahiya, Delhi's coach, and Wasim Jaffer, the Mumbai captain, were of the opinion that the main reason behind majority of the matches ending in dull draws was because teams refused to risk pushing their bowlers, who have been under the pump due to the demanding schedule and lifeless pitches. "We do not get too many days rest between matches. There is not much rest for the bowlers who go down with the injuries," Jaffer said on the eve of the Ranji Trophy Super League semi-final between Mumbai and Delhi at the Brabourne Stadium.

Jaffer said it was the primary reason teams were settling for first-innings lead points rather than pushing for an outright win. "So when you get the time to rest them [bowlers] you don't miss out unless you want to really want to force a win. Otherwise people are happy to get the first-innings lead and go to the next round," he said.

Dahiya was equally critical of the schedule which was introduced at the start of 2008 season. "We haven't changed our [bowling] combination throughout the season unless forced by injuries or national call-ups. So the fast bowlers need more rest. If we can have that it would be more helpful rather than having a five-day game," Dahiya said.

While Dahiya was happy with the four-day format till the semi-finals, Jaffer believed five-day matches from the knockout stage would create more time for a possible result. "The five-day format, at least in the knockouts, is good as most teams prefer to take the first-innings lead and don't want to force a win. At least this way the team on the receiving end has a chance to get back," Jaffer said.

Out of 53 matches played in the 2009-10 season, only 19 had outright results while 31 were decided by the first-innings lead. Corresponding figures in 2008-09 show 31 of the 56 matches had a result while 26 ended on first-innings lead.

"For most of the games, we haven't asked our bowlers to bowl in the nets during training as they have bowled 45-odd overs already," Jaffer said. At the moment the gap is three days which includes a traveling day. "Ideally it would be good to have three rest days and one day for travel."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo