India domestic news March 22, 2012

Ranji points system, pitches discussed at BCCI conclave


Playing on uncovered pitches, incentivising wins by tweaking the Ranji Trophy points system, scheduling Ranji knockouts at neutral venues, increasing the number of rest days between games, increasing the number of bouncers allowed per over in first-class cricket; these were all ideas proposed at a BCCI conclave for domestic captains and coaches, in Mumbai.

With team officials from nearly 27 states in attendance, the meeting was chaired by BCCI president N Srinivasan along with Sanjay Jagdale and Ratnakar Shetty, the board secretary and chief-administrative officer respectively. The conclave, a concept that had been discontinued a few years ago, made a resounding comeback according to some participants, who said there had been fruitful discussions.

One of most important discussions in this year's conclave concerned the revamping of the points system in the Ranji Trophy. WV Raman, the former India opener and current Bengal coach, suggested there was a need to encourage teams to win games outright. Under the current points system, once a team takes the first-innings lead they sit back, he said. "My suggestion was if a team gets a first-innings lead then give them the impetus to go for an outright win by allowing them to retain the three points even if they lose the game. The team that wins will get four points."

According to the existing rules, a team that takes a first-innings lead gets three points if the match ends in a draw, with the opponent getting one point. An outright win is worth five points with an additional bonus point available for an innings victory or ten-wicket win. According to Raman's formula, a team would secure three points once they took a first-innings lead, regardless of the result, and would then chase a further four points for a win.

"It will give the teams the drive to challenge the opponents and make sporting declarations," Raman said.

The other topic which saw animated discussion was that of uncovered pitches. Bishan Singh Bedi, the former India captain and current Jammu & Kashmir coach, said playing on uncovered pitches would toughen up domestic batsmen and simultaneously negate home advantage in matches. The idea met some opposition, particularly, according to Hyderabad coach Sunil Joshi, from the batsmen and coaches at the conclave.

"In domestic cricket the quality of bowling is bad while the batsmen continue to bat on for days," Bedi said. "The uncovered pitches will give the bowlers some encouragement."

According to Joshi, a better idea would be to use uncovered pitches at the Under-19 and Under-22 levels. "That would allow the youngsters to negotiate variable bounce, moisture, dew and a variety of other factors. It could be a good learning experience not only for the youngsters but also for the coaches," Joshi said.

During the BCCI's technical committee meeting last month, Sourav Ganguly and his nine-member panel had struck down the suggestion of playing Ranji matches at neutral venues, an idea that had come out of the BCCI working committee meeting. The technical committee had recommended carrying on with the existing home-and-away format during the league phase.

During the conclave, many coaches and captains supported the idea of knockout matches being played at neutral grounds, saying it would guard against any bias a home-team curator might have while preparing a pitch. However, Raman pointed out that the home team lost in both semi-finals and the final this Ranji season. "So you can't take it for granted that the home side will tweak things in their favour," Raman said. Also, Raman said, the fact that BCCI grounds and pitches committee officials were present to overlook pitch preparations during the knockout phase was a good enough assurance that tracks would be fair to both sides.

Raman also suggested at the conclave that fast bowlers be allowed to bowl three bouncers in an over in first-class cricket. "It would give the fast bowlers an added weapon and also help batsman counter short-pitch bowling," Raman said. It was an extension, Raman said, of the technical committee's decision to allow two bouncers in an over during domestic one-day tournaments.

There was also a unanimous opinion among the captains and coaches that a four-day break between matches during the Ranji season was needed as opposed to the prevailing three-day breaks.

Ganguly's committee had suggested that Kookaburra balls continue being used during the Duleep Trophy. That idea did not find favour at the conclave, as members suggested playing with SG Test balls would be better. "What is the point of playing with a Kookaburra ball when the domestic players play the Ranji season with SG balls," Joshi said. "Also, in the next 18 months India will be playing only at home so it would be much better to use SG during the Duleep Trophy too."

Kookaburra balls are used for the domestic 50-over and 20-over competitions, and it was recommended that teams be given more balls to practise with, well in advance of the tournaments. "Normally we are given a few Kookaburra balls two days before the tournament. How do you expect the bowlers to get used to it?" one of the coaches said. Another idea discussed was the introduction of a league phase in the Duleep and Deodhar Trophy.

Joshi and Hrishikesh Kanitkar, the captain of Rajasthan, winners of the last two Ranji Trophies, proposed the idea of having just one group in both Elite and Plate divisions, increasing the number of games each team would play in the league phase, and thus giving them more chances to qualify for the knockouts. "So you play about 14 matches in the Elite division, and 11 in Plate. Then you could have the top four or the top two from each group progress to the quarterfinals or the semi-finals," Joshi said.

That idea, though, was in contradiction to the agreed-upon notion that players needed more rest. "On the one hand people wanted the rest period increased, but at the same time they were requesting more cricket in an already packed calendar," one of the captains who attended the meeting said.

Edited by Dustin Silgardo

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Arun on March 23, 2012, 16:59 GMT

    Another suggestion would be to make it compulsory for all the state boards to have a fast bowler development program within their jurisdictions, with measurable approaches and result oriented implementation (the bowlers must actually be "fast", not fast-medium or medium-fast or medium-medium or Irfan Pathan). With such programs and with a dedicated monitoring system, we can easily create a pool of 10-20 fast bowlers in five years time.

  • Arun on March 23, 2012, 16:49 GMT

    The uncovered pitches idea and point incentive idea are radical and innovative. If they are adopted, it can only do good for Indian cricket...but history suggests that we are not innovative in our approach and tend to blindly follow all the methods implemented by the Aussies...hope this committee bucks the trend and goes radical.....this guy Raman makes a lot of sense and his suggestions are also good....goes to show that we need more ex-players in cricket administration.

  • Raman on March 23, 2012, 15:48 GMT

    I have a suggestion for all Test and First Class matches. There is an imbalance between the subcontinental and international teams in bowling skills regarding spin vs fast bowling. This is reflected in all matches being played where the home team tries to prepare pitches to their home advantage. There should be made a rule to limit the number of overs of spin vs fast bowling in each innings. It can be a minimum of 40% of spin and 40% of fast bowling. The rest 20% can be either spin or fast, and decided by bowling team. That will provide a good balance between both skills, and reduce the home advantage.

  • Jayaesh on March 23, 2012, 8:38 GMT

    Apart from point already mentioned one has to look at selection of most state teams, one will find to many average, tried n tested failures in late 20's/early 30's playing on a regular basis despite non-performance just because they have cosy relations with state association.I think every team should have 5 compulory u-19/u-22 player in the starting eleven.

  • Mohan on March 23, 2012, 8:00 GMT

    Playing Ranji Trophy matches in uncovered pitches would be a good idea for the players to develop skills, would give bowlers equal chances and encourage fastbowlers. This will give equal chance for spinners to take wickets. Its important to have pitches across the country just like the pitches in Mysore, Mohali, Nagpur. Fast and bouncy pitches. This will equal chances to both fastbowlers and batsmen. Good idea of playing matches in uncovered pitches. Bedi is right in his observation. domestic bowling standard has gone down, batsmen bat for days and pile up runs on flat pitches where even my mom can bat for two days and score runs.

  • Srinivas on March 23, 2012, 7:51 GMT

    Honestly, the domestic competition needs a complete revamp not just tweaking. We are well past tweaking stage. Also, the tweaks suggested wouldn't bring about any change until the attitude of the administrators and the players change from being among the top in India being among the best in the world.

  • Dummy4 on March 23, 2012, 7:39 GMT

    There will be no crowd even if the matches organised at a neutral venue.The Ranji matches should be played in smaller cities and then only we will find increase in number of cricket lovers. Yes the point system should be revised and it should be in such a way that both the teams fight till the last ball.The pitches should be covered as uncovering of pitches will further lead to some new complications.The bouncer law should be the same which is prevelent in the international cricket.The ranji matches can attract more crowd provided star players turn out for their respective teams.The main problem is that they have no time to play in the domestic circuit due to international and I P L matches.Even if they have time they would not like to participate in it and prefer to have rest or busy in some lucarative assignments.The law is there but it defers from player to player

  • abhishek on March 23, 2012, 7:19 GMT

    I think point system is really is a need to imporove thing.Once a team gets lead they dont go for the win.There should be a rule to give three points to team leading i n the first inning thereafter 4 more point based on win lose .That would give both teams chance to make points out of the match.Allowing 3 bouncers is a very good idea for the encouragement of the bowlers.Also one another thing that should be taken account of is that we should start preparing reasonable fast wickets that goes well throughout 5 days.One another and very important change need to make is the reduction in the number of the teams in the season.

  • Murtaza on March 23, 2012, 7:18 GMT

    Excellent idea by Raman. Incentivizing teams for a win irrespective of a 1st innings deficit will spur them on to put in the extra effort. Assured points for 1st innings lead will also take away the fear of losing if one goes for the win (3 points already in the bag). Good way to make make the games competitive.

  • Nandu on March 23, 2012, 3:30 GMT

    When would BCCI invite the fans to give their two cents? what is the point in asking players/coaches only? Listen to fans first. Find out why fans are staying away from watching Ranji matches and BCCI will find their answers. Please...never ever prepare a pitch like one we had for the Ranji Finals.

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