J&K to play Ranji matches away from home
Jammu & Kashmir will play all their Ranji Trophy league stage games away from home. The decision was taken since the infrastructure in the state is damaged due to the major floods in September and will not be repaired in time before the Ranji season concludes.
"We have informed the BCCI that none of our regular grounds will be in condition to host any of our home games this season, so we will have to play all our matches away from home this season," Jammu & Kashmir Cricket Association secretary ML Nehru told ESPNcricinfo. "It will make things a little difficult for the team, but we just cannot help it since the natural calamity was so severe."
J&K finished second in Group C last season to earn promotion for the 2014-15 season, and have been placed in Group A. Jammu & Kashmir were allotted three home games this season, against Tamil Nadu (December 14-17), Railways (January 21-24) and Madhya Pradesh (January 29-February 1). A BCCI insider confirmed that all three matches will now be played at the home venues of their respective opponents.
The decision is contrary to secretary Sanjay Patel's statement in September. Patel had said that J&K will play all their home games in Mohali, the home of Punjab Cricket Association. However, it is understood that the plan was changed since the BCCI was not willing to tinker with the "home and away" nature of the Ranji Trophy league stage.
Meanwhile, the BCCI has also drifted from its system of allocating four home and four away games to every team in the Ranji league stage. Since moving to a three-tier system of nine teams each in 2012-13, the BCCI used to ensured that each team gets equal home and away games in the league stage.
However, this season, the number of home games for every team - barring J & K - vary from three to five. According to an insider who was involved in devising the fixtures, the need for tinkering with the last two years' norm to avoid the same teams facing each other at the same venue for two consecutive years. "With the revisions of groups, if we had to maintain four games' system, we would have had no choice but to make the same teams play at the same venue in successive seasons. Instead, it was decided to vary the number of matches."
Before 2012-13, there had been occasions when a team would have played all their league games either at home or away. For instance, Rajasthan played all their league games at home on their way to a maiden Ranji triumph in 2010-11. The BCCI had then devised a fresh home-and-away system from 2012-13 when the structure of the tournament was changed.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo