January 20, 2012

The case for a 12-team Ranji Trophy

To revive the Indian team, the board must first reorganise the domestic structure. How about fewer teams and a shorter, better planned season?
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Two options present themselves before those who are supposed to love and cherish Indian cricket. They could take the easy way out and skim the surface, make cosmetic changes; drop a player here or there; pass the blame to the selectors, the IPL, the senior players, the captain; and wait for the tide to turn. Or they could view the results from England and Australia as a magnificent opportunity to introspect honestly. Both words are important, for if you don't introspect honestly, you merely benefit airlines, hotels and incapable people.

The board could make the systemic changes that Indian cricket, like an orphaned child, has been crying out for. They could begin the process of trying to become No. 1 again, which, even if not always apparent, is not a bad objective. Critically, they could begin the process of transformation; from looking at profit-loss statements to win-loss statements. Inevitably the second takes care of the first.

Top of the list, when it comes to looking for change, is intent. If you have it, nothing else matters, for paths present themselves. If you don't have it, you meander your way through, occasionally stumbling onto success but not recognising it well enough to build a home there. Let us then assume intent.

The first priority is to produce ready cricketers, and therefore to search for the process most likely to produce them. The current system has worked in parts; some extraordinary players have been spotted and nurtured over the years. It is not a wicked system but it only works up to a point. Being consistently excellent seems to elude it.

The key to any resurgence is not to seek to produce the best national team but the best set of players immediately below it. If your first-class system is strong, the national team is automatically strong; the unfashionable always comes first. You cannot produce great leaders without a sound moral base, and you cannot build the first floor without the foundation below it. An intensely competitive Ranji Trophy will automatically produce a sound national team. And so that is where we need to begin. And that is where we need to be armed with intent.

Rather than have many teams playing many games, we need to have fewer teams playing more games. We currently have 27 teams split into Elite and Plate groups. It was an idea worth trying, but it is still too many teams and few know who plays in the Plate group anyway. There is a system of promotion and relegation, again sound in theory, but it does nothing to improve the quality of cricket. Hardly anyone in the Plate group, in spite of Rajasthan's fairytale, threatens to break into the national team. With 27 teams you should have had about eight fast bowlers, eight spinners and five wicketkeepers fighting to be in the national team. It is time to separate the wheat from the chaff.

My 11 teams for the Ranji Trophy are Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh (including Hyderabad), Maharashtra (including Mumbai), Gujarat (including Vadodara and Saurashtra), Central India (including Vidarbha, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand), Rajasthan, Delhi, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bengal. And I think Railways deserve to be the 12th

I suggest no more than 12 teams in the Ranji Trophy - and that means no Elite or Plate groups. Just 12 teams. I can hear objections about 27 associations, the need to spread the game as deep as possible, the organisational hurdles... but it is precisely by listening to such voices that Indian cricket has remained inconsistent. That is why intent must lead the way. Having 27 associations and teams is a decoy; it promises only numbers, not excellence.

With 12 teams, you will get 11 first-class games each and that is good enough. It also means there is no room for the Duleep Trophy, the zonal first-class tournament that outlived its utility many years ago. The Duleep Trophy fills dates in a calendar; it does little else. It was meant to be a higher standard of cricket than the Ranji Trophy, but if you improve Ranji, the Duleep Trophy becomes redundant.

It will mean merging some of the existing teams, and the major deterrents here are the vote at the annual general meeting and the grant each state body gets. Neither is necessarily conducive to producing great cricketers. Yes, you will lose some cricketers, but if the top 150 players in the country cannot produce a competitive national team then the top 400 won't. You cannot dilute a system to protect its non-performing assets.

My first 11 teams for the Ranji Trophy are Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh (including Hyderabad), Maharashtra (including Mumbai), Gujarat (including Vadodara and Saurashtra), Central India (including Vidarbha, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand), Rajasthan, Delhi, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bengal. That leaves a 12th, and I think Railways, for their sheer determination and ability to fight the odds, and their commitment to employing cricketers, deserve to be the 12th, but with a share of the grant from the BCCI so they can look the other teams in the eye.

It will mean no place for Kerala, Goa, Tripura, Assam, J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Orissa and Services. But their recent contribution to Indian cricket has been negligible, so they must go into a catchment area. It is not discrimination, just a search for the best.

Accordingly, the Ranji Trophy season could be played from mid-October to end-January, with maybe, only maybe, an Irani Trophy match immediately following, so that the best players in a season get rewarded in the same season. The scheduling will be a bit tricky since you will also need to play a 50-over game along with the Ranji game, but that is an area the BCCI has been pretty good at.

After a little gap, I propose an A series against a visiting side, from mid-February to mid-March, which will allow a clear two to three weeks of rest before the IPL. June remains free for everyone and the best players then embark on an A tour in July to either Australia or England. Maybe the A tours at home and away can be in alternate years, to ensure the calendar isn't too packed. And to round it off, a month between mid-August and mid-September will be completely free.

This is merely the draft of a thought process, but it will allow the Test players to play the first two or three games in the Ranji Trophy and will require the BCCI to ensure the itinerary they want. It shouldn't be difficult.

There are many other issues. The composition of the selection committee - the most potent arm of Indian cricket - the direction the National Cricket Academy needs to take, the amount of international cricket, the clear window pre- and post-IPL, the quality of pitches, the training of Indian coaches, the appointment of a permanent manager, the right media partners, etc. If each of these is approached with intent as the guiding light, there cannot be darkness. Maybe thoughts next week on those.

But Indian cricket has to move away from its obsession with the profit-loss statement and towards an obsession with a win-loss statement. Everything else will follow.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ashok16 on January 23, 2012, 17:45 GMT

    Thanks in no small part to some good writers from Cricinfo (Nagaraj Gollapudi, Sharda Ugra, Akash Chopra and a few others), this year's Ranji season was exciting. Now that Harsha has deigned to comment on it, there are a few things he should note. Ranji is working well in many things. There is a strong team loyalty amongst fans now (bcci.tv live telecast was quite popular). This should not be shaken by bringing in composite teams. Fine, some teams in the plate league are obscure and dont really try hard but others try hard to stay in the super league. Example in case is Rajasthan which has vaulted itself from the confines of the plate league to two-time winners. So aside from the practicality of it (yes, Tripura has a vote and is going to fight tooth and nail to keep it), Ranji Super league is attracting a strong following; do not disturb it. Improvement items: (a) player movement should be made easier. Good players from bad teams can jump ship. (b) pitches: ..

  • Sumeet.Gupta on January 23, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    Rather than merging the states, why not make Duleep trophy the national championship and Ranji trophy as its feeder? Have 5 zones as teams and make them play home and away, which assures at least 8 first class games. Then play out a final. The Ranji can continue in parallel and should act as a feeder to the national championship. The lesser teams does not necessarily mean quality, but we are still better off than having 27 FC teams. Let's face it, at least 200 out of the 300 odd FC cricketers do not deserve to be an FC cricketer. Also, merging states, no matter how well intentioned, will become a political exercise in futile. Remember, we have politicians at helm at the BCCI!

  • ajaygodbole on January 23, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    I think the current format is good, what we need is sporty wickets, else we would see boring Ranji finals, like the one which ended today, one team winning the toss batting for more than 50% of the time, and the result is the team wins by first innings lead?

  • Sreerang on January 22, 2012, 19:16 GMT

    How many such occasions have come and how many times have those who are supposed to 'love and cherish Indian cricket shown honest intent', since you've been watching the game, Harsha? The more things change, the more they remain the same. No hope from BCCI.

  • ansram on January 22, 2012, 15:34 GMT

    It will mean no place for Kerala, Goa, Tripura, Assam, J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Orissa and Services. But their recent contribution to Indian cricket has been negligible, so they must go into a catchment area. It is not discrimination, just a search for the best.

    This is indeed a short sighted observation. Nobody knows where a big talent can come from. Just because their contribution has been negligible so far, does not mean it will continue to be in future. How about the Olympic Committe deciding to do away with India's participation as we have never done anything of note, since the golden days of hockey?

    --------

    The number of teams is not the main problem - our players need to encounter all kinds of pitches and playing condiitions to churn out world class talent. There should be a more efficient system to spot and nurture young talent, as they do in countries like China.

  • on January 22, 2012, 13:36 GMT

    BCCI should prepare different type of pitches for Ranji matches & other domestic competitions so that our boys will grow up in such conditions and can compete in international cricket against various teams in various pitches. Formats doesn't play much role.

  • sportofpain on January 22, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    Poor article. In a country of 1 billion people you MUST give chances to as many people as possible - the Kapil Devs and MS Dhoni's emerged from the backwaters of Indian cricket. The TNCA cricket leage has 60 teams just in Chennai - it is run very efficiently.so what is the issue with27 teams for the National Championship?

  • on January 22, 2012, 10:58 GMT

    There is no player from Rajastan - who is win the Ranji Trophy for 2nd year running

  • on January 22, 2012, 9:52 GMT

    Rajasthan has 5 out of the top 6 batsmen who are not from Rajasthan. Their victory is for the acquisition, not for their hard work of team building.

  • on January 22, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    Sanks555 has hit the nail on the head - All that is required to ensure that BCCI does what is right by India is - have an external intereference on all its selection matters. N Srinivasan Owner - CSK, Dhoni - Captain CSK & Srikanth with his Chennai connections should not be allowed to gang-up AND protect positions in INDIA's playing 11 for CSK players like Badri & Murali which they have done blatantly. Dhoni has retained good-for-nothing Dravid & Laxman across the entire Australia series - price paid by INDIA to protect Murli & Badri from the danger of good performances from Rohit Sharma / Ajinkya Rahane which would have made it difficult to "blood" these CSK guys into Team India during India's next sojourn. Now - Rohit & Rahane have no performance to show, simply because the Dhoni / Srikanth / Srinivasan combine have not given them an opportunity. Bet your bottom $, these guys Murli And / OR Badri will be in the next India playing 11 when Laxman / Dravid move out, not Sharma / Rahane

  • ashok16 on January 23, 2012, 17:45 GMT

    Thanks in no small part to some good writers from Cricinfo (Nagaraj Gollapudi, Sharda Ugra, Akash Chopra and a few others), this year's Ranji season was exciting. Now that Harsha has deigned to comment on it, there are a few things he should note. Ranji is working well in many things. There is a strong team loyalty amongst fans now (bcci.tv live telecast was quite popular). This should not be shaken by bringing in composite teams. Fine, some teams in the plate league are obscure and dont really try hard but others try hard to stay in the super league. Example in case is Rajasthan which has vaulted itself from the confines of the plate league to two-time winners. So aside from the practicality of it (yes, Tripura has a vote and is going to fight tooth and nail to keep it), Ranji Super league is attracting a strong following; do not disturb it. Improvement items: (a) player movement should be made easier. Good players from bad teams can jump ship. (b) pitches: ..

  • Sumeet.Gupta on January 23, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    Rather than merging the states, why not make Duleep trophy the national championship and Ranji trophy as its feeder? Have 5 zones as teams and make them play home and away, which assures at least 8 first class games. Then play out a final. The Ranji can continue in parallel and should act as a feeder to the national championship. The lesser teams does not necessarily mean quality, but we are still better off than having 27 FC teams. Let's face it, at least 200 out of the 300 odd FC cricketers do not deserve to be an FC cricketer. Also, merging states, no matter how well intentioned, will become a political exercise in futile. Remember, we have politicians at helm at the BCCI!

  • ajaygodbole on January 23, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    I think the current format is good, what we need is sporty wickets, else we would see boring Ranji finals, like the one which ended today, one team winning the toss batting for more than 50% of the time, and the result is the team wins by first innings lead?

  • Sreerang on January 22, 2012, 19:16 GMT

    How many such occasions have come and how many times have those who are supposed to 'love and cherish Indian cricket shown honest intent', since you've been watching the game, Harsha? The more things change, the more they remain the same. No hope from BCCI.

  • ansram on January 22, 2012, 15:34 GMT

    It will mean no place for Kerala, Goa, Tripura, Assam, J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Orissa and Services. But their recent contribution to Indian cricket has been negligible, so they must go into a catchment area. It is not discrimination, just a search for the best.

    This is indeed a short sighted observation. Nobody knows where a big talent can come from. Just because their contribution has been negligible so far, does not mean it will continue to be in future. How about the Olympic Committe deciding to do away with India's participation as we have never done anything of note, since the golden days of hockey?

    --------

    The number of teams is not the main problem - our players need to encounter all kinds of pitches and playing condiitions to churn out world class talent. There should be a more efficient system to spot and nurture young talent, as they do in countries like China.

  • on January 22, 2012, 13:36 GMT

    BCCI should prepare different type of pitches for Ranji matches & other domestic competitions so that our boys will grow up in such conditions and can compete in international cricket against various teams in various pitches. Formats doesn't play much role.

  • sportofpain on January 22, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    Poor article. In a country of 1 billion people you MUST give chances to as many people as possible - the Kapil Devs and MS Dhoni's emerged from the backwaters of Indian cricket. The TNCA cricket leage has 60 teams just in Chennai - it is run very efficiently.so what is the issue with27 teams for the National Championship?

  • on January 22, 2012, 10:58 GMT

    There is no player from Rajastan - who is win the Ranji Trophy for 2nd year running

  • on January 22, 2012, 9:52 GMT

    Rajasthan has 5 out of the top 6 batsmen who are not from Rajasthan. Their victory is for the acquisition, not for their hard work of team building.

  • on January 22, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    Sanks555 has hit the nail on the head - All that is required to ensure that BCCI does what is right by India is - have an external intereference on all its selection matters. N Srinivasan Owner - CSK, Dhoni - Captain CSK & Srikanth with his Chennai connections should not be allowed to gang-up AND protect positions in INDIA's playing 11 for CSK players like Badri & Murali which they have done blatantly. Dhoni has retained good-for-nothing Dravid & Laxman across the entire Australia series - price paid by INDIA to protect Murli & Badri from the danger of good performances from Rohit Sharma / Ajinkya Rahane which would have made it difficult to "blood" these CSK guys into Team India during India's next sojourn. Now - Rohit & Rahane have no performance to show, simply because the Dhoni / Srikanth / Srinivasan combine have not given them an opportunity. Bet your bottom $, these guys Murli And / OR Badri will be in the next India playing 11 when Laxman / Dravid move out, not Sharma / Rahane

  • StanfordT20 on January 22, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    @sanks555 - How naive of you to expect our cricket writers (this in particular) to put some thought into what is otherwise a delusional do-gooder type attitude. Why would they dare question the hand that feeds ie the bcci. Only in out country can we allow a srinivasan who owns a cricket franchise and a major sponsor to lead the bcci. Apparently there's no conflict of interest there - hmm I've seen more convincing cases made for peace in the middle east. Srinivasan was on a programme last night saying dhoni deserved many more chances cos kirsten once said so and that he won srinivasan's franchise two trophies. When will we ever find a cricketing voice that can grow a set and speak the common man's mind?! 7 overseas defeats on the trot and we are still not convinced our top order can't face pace and seam. Our writers should be more forthright, daring and outspoken and do write what we want our cricketers to read and realise how bad we feel as a nation let down!

  • Mariaj-irdahseS on January 22, 2012, 5:31 GMT

    PART 5 OF 5 I still have not figured out how the UK fields a separate team in international competitions for Scotland, England and Wales. Not that it would foster unity in our country if there was say a cricket from Tamil Nadu or Karnataka or Mumbai playing international matches, but I do believe such teams may well perform better than Team India even though they are comprised of lesser players and that is because they may well have the team spirit in abundance. Talent and ability are important but if there is no team spirit in a team game it will amount to nothing. On the other hand less talented players with an abundance of team spirit have achieved miracles.

  • Mariaj-irdahseS on January 22, 2012, 5:25 GMT

    PART 4 OF 5 ROLE OF THE MEDIA AND BCCI: In the interests of the nation, journalists should refrain from airing their personal views, however true it might be, on the value of any one player for the team. Placing individual players on a pedestal and saying that 'without their presence Team India is without teeth' is tantamount to a death-knell. Other members of the team may well be entitled to feeling resentment, for this is a TEAM sport.

    In addition BCCI should disallow any player who is still an active member of the team, accepting 'orations' even if it is a recognition and an honor richly deserved and bestowed. For this places the orator in the limelight more than the other team members. OZ media's obsession with Tendulkar may well be to market the game as well as a genuine love and reverence for the great man. But it also has a pernicious effect on the team spirit.

    Of course we have no control over what the OZ media does, we can only 'control' our own.

  • Mariaj-irdahseS on January 22, 2012, 5:18 GMT

    PART 3 OF 5

    ENDORSEMENTS: When a member of a team is allowed to reap from personal success through unbridled endorsements this will sap life from the Team Spirit. Any individual's success in any team sport, has to be attributed, however minor, to the other members of the team. For an individual to walk away with millions will naturally engender schisms within the ranks. No Armed Forces personnel is allowed to commercially exploit his valour in the battle field and that is because they fight as a team. BCCI should regulate and if possible come to some understanding of how to distribute such wealth generated by any one member, among the team members. They have to work out some formula for doing so. Either that or disallow it completely or place restrictions on the number of endorsements to ensure that the Team Spirit is maintained. Addressing this issue as suggested may seem harsh and even laughable, but if not addressed, individualism will continue to wreak fault lines in the team.

  • Mariaj-irdahseS on January 22, 2012, 5:07 GMT

    PART 2 OF 5 SENIORS.

    The Armed Forces are the ULTIMATE team unit. They personify traits that any team in the civilian world entrusted with objectives, would do well to emulate. Retirement in the Forces is not at the whim of the individual, however valorous or critical that particular individual may be. Generals clinging to power would lower morale and sap the life in the ranks & the very sovereignty of the country will be at stake.

    If seniors do not automatically retire after a certain age, their continuing presence, however good they may be, will endanger cricket in India as a whole. If younger players are not fostered and given their due, in the long run Indian Cricket will die. Players like Sachin who clicked at the tender age of 16 come along once in several lifetimes. We must give youngsters time to take root in test cricket and this can only be if seniors are phased out. Sachin, Rahul and VVS would do well to mentor younger players coming in.

  • Mariaj-irdahseS on January 22, 2012, 4:56 GMT

    PART 1 of 5 Great article Mr Bhogle sir. Always enjoy your thoughts and analysis. May i take this opportunity to air my views over several posts. I request your indulgence and patience.

    MONEYBALL is a film depicting a true story of how the coach of an ailing major league baseball team revived its fortunes by using certain baseball statistical parameters. He recruited 'washed out' players that were being ignored by other teams as they were not falling into the traditional view . By cobbling together such a group of 'washout' players he achieved extraordinary results. The movie ignores one perspective that contributed to the Oakland A's incredible run and that was the individual players found themselves on common ground and from that common bond was born that intangible known as TEAM SPIRIT, so critical in team sport. It is this intangible that TEAM INDIA needs In the next few posts, I try outlining factors necessary for this spirit in TEAM INDIA or any team!

  • insightfulcricketer on January 22, 2012, 3:32 GMT

    1. BCCI need to put a fixed calendar in place. Ensure players get at least 3 consecutive months of rest every season. 2. Ensure first class grounds produce hard wickets.If this requires building an academy for cricket curators or decently paid curators or both so be it.Penalize monetarily if a state does not produce such a wicket in a season. 3. Invest in having cricket scouts for international matches. Past test players should go months in advance and look at cricket pitch preparations ,facilities and prepare dossier of opposing players . 4. Regular India A tours with leading cricketing nations

    India is a vast country and having more teams only increases the pool of players. What is needed a system which sifts through achievements and finds and nurtures players with potential with no "regional preferences". BCCI needs to work professionally and realize Indian cricket team should be but forth as a product.

  • on January 22, 2012, 1:18 GMT

    Quality wickets arethe need of the hour. Without that any changes will be a waste.India will lose,Alsoplay Ranji arterssemis and finals in LORDS,LEEDsso that the bestof thetalentcan be notchedup.

  • Azfar on January 21, 2012, 20:29 GMT

    Harsha, many compliments on an outstanding article. I have in the last 3 weeks read so many things and seen so many debates & discussions on what ails Indian Cricket & what is the way ahead, but your analysis is most spot on. You are absolutely correct, we have to look at the systemic faults, not keep going on and on about who should retire when, they are short term measures. I have seen the reactions from the BCCI functionaries N. Srinivasan, Niranjan Shah etc and am absolutely alarmed to hear the nonsense these people are talking. Not a single thought on long term planning !! The lack of foresight on the part of BCCI is appalling. The most successful cricket system is Australian and they have just 6 teams. It is so competitive that some of these matches are more intense that international matches. That's want we should do with the Ranji Trophy. Hope the powers that be pay heed to your blueprint for Indian Cricket.

  • bvnathan on January 21, 2012, 17:53 GMT

    Hi Harsha, your idea and selection of 12 teams does not present the right approach - to arrest INDIAN Cricket malady (also other sports) In 2007 my brother had written an article in KEHL.com - a summary is given below: Identify a new format having of about 4 top teams (say A, B, C, D) of 15 members each. (1) Players consisting of top peformers selected across the states of nation (2) Each team to have a composition of 5 batsmen, 3 all-rounders, 1 keeper, 4 pacers, and 2 spinners. (3) The teams play against each other twice a year (two 4-6 weeks schedule; One in Summer and One in Winter period). (4) The matches to be played on four different surfaces - Pace&Bounce, Turner/Dusty, True&Even and Dud pitches. (5) This format will provide a pool of 20 batsmen, 12 all-rounders, 4 keepers, 16 pacers and 8 spinners (6) The group can be coached / classifed/divided to meet TEST, 1-DAY and 20-20 requirements. Details of the article @ http://sify.com/sports/cricket/fullstory.php?id=14462436

  • on January 21, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    With what is happening in the Ranji final, it's clear that the number of teams is not the biggest problem to solve. The state of pitches and the first-innings lead format are a travesty. Why not prepare competitive pitches, reward positive cricket as with the English system, and see who emerges out of the masses? Who knows, it could be another allrounder from Haryana!

  • StanfordT20 on January 21, 2012, 15:12 GMT

    @thewonderboy - lol! You like bhogle because he is an iim grad and pursues cricket 'only' because he likes it...\gotta love your innocence. Sadly all personalities in cricket exist because of the money in it. Trust me sachin wouldn't enjoy playing everyday if there wasn't as much money nor would bhogle. How else can you explain a cricket team that has on conscience to apologise after losing 7 matches on the trot - even in a smaller country like sri lanka they have sacked some big names after a string of dismal games. In india the bcci employs people like gavaskar and shastri, makes it obligatory for foreign broadcasters to include them in the commentary team just so they wax lyrical about india, the board, tendulkar and the great indian cricket tamasha. Unfortunately guys like bhogle are in the next tier, who sadly know not much about cricket and claim some false romantic appeal to the game that would never match the passion that the common man like you and i bring to the table.

  • geepharm on January 21, 2012, 14:27 GMT

    Salil, BCCI with its financial power, should buy a UK county team say (or in Aus or SA if ECB objects) and this could be for the emerging players of India to participate in county matches.Not only would this generate more wonga for the ECB/BCCI as the support by the local Indian community would be vigorous, but the learning curves for India players would be a fabulous opportunity (batters and bowlers). If the semantics of buying a county team dont add, then they could 'buy-in" into an ailing county team.

  • kumar0us on January 21, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    As several people have already commented that we need variations in pitches. This itself would solve almost all the problems. It is almost impossible to beat India in India for past several years. If we just have good pitches, I am sure the system would be able to produce cricketers (it probably would take a decade although) who would excel all around the globe.

  • dosapati_anand on January 21, 2012, 13:01 GMT

    All these articles and suggestions are utterly useless because the guys in BCCI are doing a business worth of unimaginable amounts. For them, the pleasure of great cricket not just pales in comparison compared to pleasure money, it simply is unfeelable. The perspective of the cricket bosses who are running the 'boring business of cricket', which is nevertheless obscenely and unduly lucrative cannot be understood by a common cricket connoisseur. Unless the situation strongly demands or unless he is forced a good businessman wouldn't be inclined to change the setup that is breeding billions. Unless someone at the very top has the will to dismantle the business juggernaut first, we cannot entertain any thought of reformation even remotely.

  • Sanks555 on January 21, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    Does anyone here understand the organizational structure of BCCI? BCCI is a private club consortium and the state associations(and Railways and Serivces) are its members. The office bearers from BCCI are elected by the representatives of state associations and each association has one vote.

    Given this ground reality, how will Mr. Harsha Bhogle's plan be implemented? Will state associations voluntarily agree to not let their teams compete in first class cricket or allow their teams to be merged.

    BCCI is not a top-down corporation that can impose its will on its ground units and build/abolish new units when required.This is the heart of BCCI's constitution and cannot be changed. What can be changed is the right of BCCI to select the Indian cricket team.

  • Tendya_fan on January 21, 2012, 8:50 GMT

    Harsha Can you please write a article on Bowler's v/z Batsmen in test cricket. Both are equally imp to have a contest. But with celebrties like Tendulkar, Hayden, Ponting, Lara youngsters are looking at batting as the only means to rise to fame I personally think bowlers are much more imp. In T20 even a bowler can bat & win So is true in ODI. In tests ocassionally bowlers win/draw by their batting But Bowling is an art Who is a bigger asset. Mcgrath, murli, warne or Tendya, Lara, Ponting Bradman. Aussie has created better test records in 20th century than they did with Bradman. Even though they play in more different conditions than they did in Bradman era. Asian teams had more % of batting greats than bowlers & hence they have never been consistent world beaters in test. Pakistan may be slighly diff but they produce world class fast bowlers from streets. India is completely opposite Please emphasize this so we get better agressive bowlers to keep cricket alive

  • on January 21, 2012, 6:38 GMT

    Very good idea request the board to look into bhogle points which make our national team stronger atleast in the years to come mainly when we go abroad

  • mishim on January 21, 2012, 5:36 GMT

    But India has so many states. Which states will be merged? Which state will be left out? If you are proposing a 12 team league then better that the 12 teams represent cities rather than states. It is a radical concept for first class cricket (though the norm for T20 cricket). Players from other states/cities could then be drafted to play for the 12 city teams and could be paid a base salary by the BCCI - seeing as the league would be a feeder system for the national team - unlike IPL which is pure business! I suggest the 12 cities be: Mumbai, Kolkatta, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Nagpur, Jaipur, Kanpur and Mohali!

  • on January 21, 2012, 5:33 GMT

    harsha suggested many ideas, specially the 12 team scenario. but we are forgetting this is india . religion ,caste,subcaste,linguism ,castesim regionalism, these all things matter a lot here it would be situation of anarchy in country if some states team shown the door of exit.but what we can do is just raise the standed of domestic cricket by making he pitches which can show some results, fast,bouncy,seaming.and the team getting lead on first inning basis is just ridiculous.

  • deepak_sholapurkar on January 21, 2012, 3:31 GMT

    Hi Harsha,

    Very valid point, with fewer team we can see the competative cricket. Instead of dropping Duleep trophy why can't be made as 6 team tournament with 5 from india and one from outside(It was tried few years back). Best players from the 12 ranji teams will play for Duleep trophy and it will be very interesting.

    But is that practically possible, can BCCI will drop the full time member states from Ranji?

    And Harsha, what's your opnion on IPL. Is it also becoming like Ranji, with increase in Teams? Will the reducing the IPL teams to 6 will help? (6 teams with 2 rounds).

    Deepak

  • breathecricket on January 21, 2012, 3:12 GMT

    "The current system has worked in parts; some extraordinary players have been spotted and nurtured over the years. It is not a wicked system but it only works up to a point." I think Harsha had been highly diplomatic and too nice in what he has said. All the great players have come up in spite of our system. Everything from team selection to game organisation in our Cricket Administration is completely business oriented and politicised. Worse is the hype about our performance. After decades of playing cricket, we have never won a single test series in Australia or South Africa and yet our team is rated too highly. Writers like Harsha should not mince words and be honest about what they are saying rather than being nice and diplomatic.

  • bagwan on January 21, 2012, 2:49 GMT

    Never been to India. But from a distance the pitches appear very similar even though India is such a huge country, with an obvious diversity of conditions? That's just an outsiders impression, don't know if thats correct. You would think there would be a lot fast bowling talent like Umesh Yadav ready to go. To my Indian friends, is my assessment correct?

  • on January 21, 2012, 2:48 GMT

    The 4 day test kills the spirit of the game, where all buggers try to get first innings lead....The games ends on second or third day when one team gets innings lead, the next 1 & 1/2 days is spent in playing the safe game.... complete loss to the game...

  • on January 21, 2012, 2:03 GMT

    11 teams should be in the premier division, and the rest 16 teams should be in the plate division divided into two groups.three bottom teams to be relegated each season, with winners of both the groups to be promoted and then runner's up of both the plate groups engaged in a play off to fill the third entrant. this would make the ranji trophy.more competitive...

  • slakkoju on January 21, 2012, 1:52 GMT

    Harsha, Why dont you comment on IPL(because you are part of it) which is deteriorating Indian cricketer standards at test level, as we are watching in Aus (no player wants to stay at crease). I think it is a good idea to have 12 better teams than 27 unproductive teams. But instead of ignoring teams like orissa, kerala you can add these boards to near states like as you did with Gujarat, AP, MH etc. How about 12 teams like AP (andhra+hyd), TN (TN+ker), KAR (kar+goa), MH (MH+mum+Vid), DEL (del+jk), PUN (pun+har), WB (wb+or) etc

  • S.Jagernath on January 21, 2012, 0:18 GMT

    @Siva...you are absolutely correct,India should have a variety of pitches.The quality of Indian cricket is being diluted as the pitches are too flat at first class level & the hype around the IPL.If India do not produce better pitches,players must be allowed to play English County Cricket instead.

  • yunaimin on January 21, 2012, 0:10 GMT

    Mr Bhogle doesn't actually make a case for a 12 team league, as he claims, other than saying that the Plate league hasn't got many Test-standard players. Well if they did they wouldn't be in the Plate league! The problems as some comments have said are more to do with the uncompetitive nature of the majority of matches, caused by a combination of dead pitches and the first-innings lead rule. The flat pitches discourage fast bowlers from developing, and exaggerate the abilities of spinners and batsmen to the extent that it is almost impossible to tell a spinner with international potential from a solid Ranji pro. It also inflates batsmen's averages, though if you are averaging over 60 it should be unignorable: those players that are (Rahane, Rohit, Badrinath, M Tiwary) have played two Tests between them but are surely more deserving of places than the unremarkable Raina or Yuvraj.

  • inswing on January 20, 2012, 23:31 GMT

    These are some good ideas. There should be 12 teams at the Ranji level, and then a second group of 12 teams for the next level. Teams do not get promoted or demoted between levels, but players do. Level 1 teams can bid for the best players at Level 2, and demote their worst players to Level 2.

  • Ajayvs on January 20, 2012, 22:51 GMT

    I also suggest there should be team of Combined Colleges and campuses like the one competing carrebian T20 tournament now. BCCI should scout for young talents from all colleges across India. I know as laymen it is easy to say change the nature of pitches, make it pacy, bouncy etc. I know a lot factors go into making of pitches like soil, weather etc.. but I'm damn sure that they can produce more sporting pitches than the one we are playing our Ranji finals on. Also independent curators should assist/monitor pitches preparation at least from quarter finals and above. There is a lot of un-tapped talent at district/town/villages of India. I'm sure BCCI with such huge coffers can set up sports hostels/excellence centers at district level. As an adherent cricket fan I only hope that that BCCI take some strong steps to rejuvenate cricket else I would not be surprised in a few years down the line, cricket will go the hockey way in India.

  • on January 20, 2012, 22:49 GMT

    I think a better idea would be to not cut the 27 teams,but reducing the number of Ranji matches and expanding the duleep trophy to a home-away league with 6teams(5 zones+A-team),making it the premier domestic tournament. so my schedule goes like August,Sept- Ranji Trophy October-Rest Nov,Dec,Jan- Duleep Trophy Feb- A tour March- Rest April,May- IPL June,July- Rest(corporate tournaments etc) This gives the injured and out-of-form's lot of opportunities.The A-team should be selected based on consistent performances and must be viewed as next-in-line to the senior team.the selections must be consistent with the chain of progress being Ranji team-to-zonal-to-A team-senior team.With this,we will have a group of 30(15 national team+15 A-team)players ready to play international cricket at any point time.this structure also clearly shows the player where he stands in the pecking order of the selectors.

  • on January 20, 2012, 22:30 GMT

    thats quite hypocritical. Intent of article is good but not the execution.

    if railways is there for giving jobs then keep keep Assam for giving tea and hosting Rhino's :).

    - Well, improve pitches. - Do some Indian Bowling Idol competitions -- fastest, endurance, swing, accuracy. - Merge smaller teams as well as 1 good talent in small state cannot make the state win, but that talent can make into 11 of India.

  • MichaelG on January 20, 2012, 22:13 GMT

    You know, India's a pretty big country... perhaps it's time the Ranji trophy sides to be given Test status and full membership of the ICC. Having India as a national side makes as much sense as Europe as a single football team.

  • dunger.bob on January 20, 2012, 21:56 GMT

    Some people reckon that it must be great to have all those players to pick from, but I think it could create it's own problems. I like to call it the 'tyranny of numbers". In Australia we only have 6 First Class teams so you are looking at about 120 players to choose from. You guys literally have thousands and that must be a nightmare for the selectors. Sometimes it's easier to be small. ... I'm sure you'll come up with some formula that works for you. .. Good luck. .... @SivaSVB95: You forgot Brisbane, the best all-round cricket wicket in Australia. It's usually a cracker and gives everybody a chance to show what they can do.

  • Raki99 on January 20, 2012, 21:09 GMT

    Just look at the core at the final going on right now.. Damm A dead Pitch and the batsman are Team playing first is just playing for the lead in the first series so they can win the ranji trophy.. Enough said....

  • Allan716 on January 20, 2012, 20:35 GMT

    I don't think Cricket is played in July in Australia so the 'A' team tours are only possible in England, Zimbabwe or Canada as these are the only places that cricket is played in the months of Jun - Aug. Instead of A tours why not incentivise your players with county stints so that they get exposure of playing in alien conditions. Similarly, they could allow a few players to play in the Australian and South African competitions. It is all about skill building. Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha and even VVS Laxman benefitted from county stints. THE GREATEST MOST IMPORTANT PART is PLAYER FITNESS and FIELDING. This is not done enough in the domestic setup and this why the Indian team struggles abroad.

  • on January 20, 2012, 20:33 GMT

    Absolutely agree, Harsha. Simple fact is that we need each of Ranji trophy match to be difficult enough, that tests batsmen and bowler. The current format allows too many batsmen to score mountains of run against low-class bowlers. I would even go down to 8 or 9 regional teams (similar to IPL), so that some states don't feel having been left out. The teams could be named with regions in mind. e.g Gujarat & Rajasthan could be one team i.e. Western India. Mumbai, Goa, Maharashtra, Vidarbha & MP could be called South-Central India. Karnataka & Kerala could be south-west India and AP, Hyderabad & Tamil-Nadu could be called South-East India. Similar division could be done in North & East India.... This league will have the top 88 players of the country playing with each other, and its going to be much easier to find the replacement 8 than the current concept of trying to choose from top 297 players.... Push the concept, Harsha!

  • Allmost_There on January 20, 2012, 20:21 GMT

    In addition to this we really need to prepare sporting pitches for Ranji games that will produce result and mere winning and batting first should not turn odds in favor of one team. Pitches that will be conducive for seam bowling for couple of sessions and will turn from day 4. That way we will have a fair contest between Bat and Ball and youngsters will be well groomed to play Pace and Spin equally good in testing conditions. Nobody is really benefitting from the dead flat tracks like the one where Ranji final is being played now. Second point is about the payment , by following fundamental financial principal of Demand and Supply , an outright test quality fast bowler should be given handsome compensation as there is serious scarcity of them and they should be encourage to play test cricket over any other format.

  • on January 20, 2012, 20:17 GMT

    I think the answer is not to reduce the number of teams instead increase the area of coverage. Most of North eastern states do not get coverage from Ranji trophy. Yes initially their quality might not be great. Mind you Assam did qualify for the Elite quarters 2 years ago. The Pint I am making is that having many division to play at is an important aspect of cricket and support of local talent becoming an aspect of life.

  • ARad on January 20, 2012, 18:47 GMT

    Here's a better idea. a. Create a number (12? 16??) of CITY-BASED franchises. Each team could have a maximum of two non-Indian players and, possibly, a minimum of three players from the local 'catchment' area. b. Let them be owned/sponsored and promoted by PRIVATE businesses and individuals (like IPL and American sports) with a spending limit. c. Pitches, just like umpiring, are part of the playing conditions so they must be controlled by a national association to ensure SPORTING WICKETS. Private businesses/individuals associated with the teams would want to maximize their brand prominence so they would seek quality players. This means, even if you come from a small town in Assam, if you are good, you will get an opportunity. India would soon produce an abundant supply of CONSISTENTLY GOOD players rather than a few gems found here and there. This would also give opportunity for even more players to make a living playing cricket. Also, allow PARAGRAPHS in cricinfo comment section! :-)

  • on January 20, 2012, 18:38 GMT

    Why not take Ranji games to South Africa and Australia...so that we could get used to conditions.... wat is required is not a stadium but a good first class ground with a sporting wicket..When IPL is possible to be conducted in South Africa...Then y not this...I did not include England is because, it is winter from Oct to march...!!

  • Born_Smart on January 20, 2012, 18:06 GMT

    Total B.S. from Harsha. He is very careful enough not to mention anything negative about IPL. This article defies any logic. Only a decade or more ago UP was not producing the kind of talents that it is producing today. So, if you eliminate lesser known teams they will not have opportunity to nurture talents. Re: Rajasthan just because it made it to finals in past 2 years it shouldn't be considered a powerhouse. It's revival is mainly due to professional players from other States like Kanitkar, A. Chopra. I don't remember when was the last time they contributed a strong player to national team. Instead of this, we should eliminate multiple teams from a single state and merge them into one to give proper representation. One team each for Maharashtra (currently 3 teams), Gujarat (3 teams), Andhra ( 2 teams) and one team from smaller/weaker states (one team Assam, Tripura, Orissa etc., one team for Goa & Kerala, one team for Delh & J&K etc)

  • pritpalpabla on January 20, 2012, 18:06 GMT

    How about make it for 5 days instead of 4 and with some professional international standard pitches...

  • samtech on January 20, 2012, 17:29 GMT

    BCCI must consider sending Ranji champs to play practice matches in Australia or England.

  • on January 20, 2012, 17:15 GMT

    i think licensing would a good way to go forward were teams earn a place in a new look Ranji trophy not through their reputation and past glories but through categories such as standard of facilities, number of players produced for various national teams (test, A, u19, etc) and quality of coaching. the best 12 would be placed into the Ranji trophy and the rest would form a seperate competition like the Minor counties championship here in England with perhaps the winner playing the bottom team in the Ranji trophy for the right to play in next seasons Ranji trophy.

  • NewYorkCricket on January 20, 2012, 17:11 GMT

    I have a couple of more suggestions

    1) Cut down the number of allowed batmen per side to a maximum of 7 in IPL. This will lead to more attacking cricket from the bowling side. It will encourage fast bowlers to be aggressive. Right now they are bowling too defensive.

    2) Encourage aggressive cricket in Ranji, by making 120 overs maximum per side in the first innings.

    3) Encourage league cricket at the under 19 level.

    4) Improve wickets for HEAVEN'S sake.

  • bhatss on January 20, 2012, 16:50 GMT

    Not just the number of teams, the format of a Ranji match too needs changing. Winning on the basis of 1st innings lead is ridiculous. The nation's premier domestic tournament's final is going on, and what has happened in 2 days? 400 runs and 2 wickets!! Why would anybody bother to try and win? Why would the home team prepare a pitch with any help for bowlers?

  • Jayan11 on January 20, 2012, 16:44 GMT

    I am all for improving our domestic structure. Look at Australia having only 5-6 teams in their 1st class tournaments and you can see the results. Considering that the BCCI will not be willing to reduce the number of Ranji teams (read votes in the annual elections) I think we should probably make the Duleep trophy the premium tournament in the country. That way the best players from the different Ranji teams can compete on a regular basis on Test grounds. Put in maybe an "A" team from Eng/Aus etc for variety and you have 6 good teams competing with good quality cricket. Also, make the 5 national selectors from each zone the manager of their respective zonal teams so that they can travel with the team and know the players' performance in and out. Give each team a physio and good coaches (earmarked for national duty). Essentially treat each of the teams as a way of generating good backups for the national team as Harsha is suggesting. Hope this is not wishful thinking...sigh...

  • on January 20, 2012, 16:41 GMT

    I simply do not agree with such absurd article. Let us face itm right cricketers are not gone on the tour. Top 10 run getters in domestic cricket are normally are not selected for national team. At present out cricket coach got to go, he has not performed Shall I say more?

  • SantoshGhirnikar on January 20, 2012, 16:35 GMT

    How about the BCCI using its millions to convince CA and and the ECB (make them an offer they can't refuse) to allow an India A team play in Australian and English domestic cricket. In a couple of years we will have a deep pool of cricketers who can play in foreign conditions. Also, a fitness and diet regime for all with measurable objectives. You fail, you are out. No exceptions!

  • theswami on January 20, 2012, 16:24 GMT

    I think Gujarat & Maharashtra do not deserve 3 teams each & by the same token Andhra does'nt need 2.

    A South Zone with the 4 states + Orissa

    A West Zone with Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh ,

    A North Zone with J&K + Himachal (one team), Punjab+ Haryana, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh.

    East Zone :Bihar, Jharkhand, Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Combined North-East.

    Goa, Services & the old Combined Universities (no longer plays Ranji, nevertheless a full member of the BCCI) & Pondicherry (which wants its own Ranji Team) lose out.

  • on January 20, 2012, 16:12 GMT

    Nice article, Harsha. However, there are other factors that need to be looked at as well. For example, how would you correct the technical flaws that have made themselves so evident in the players? For almost 8 years, Indian batsmen had started to find their feet on the bouncy, green and seaming tracks of England, SA and Australia. However, all of a sudden we are sitting ducks on these tracks. The final of the premier domestic tournament is being held in one the most sporting tracks of the country. Yet, at the end of the 2nd day the score stands at 404/2. Some may believe it's because of the mediocre bowling, but this is the same bowling attack that skittled Mumbai for less than 200 in the semis. I think the major obstacle for Indian cricket lies in the nature of wickets we prepare and train our youngsters on. Perhaps, some arrangement where our promising batsmen can be sent to play in the English County or the Aussie sheffield shield? What would your thoughts be on that, Harsha?

  • on January 20, 2012, 15:38 GMT

    99% of Indian kids who play cricket never touches a leather ball. It is all tennis ball cricket. And Bhogle thinks of limiting it even more. Don't forget the elephant in the room which is lack of cricketing infrastructure. Does Karnataka have percapita infrastructure that Srilanka, which is 1/3rd of karnataka in size, got? The solution is completely the opposite. It is not that we need less Ranaji teams. Instead, we need more national teams. Just like building a nation, language plays crucial role in building a team. Indian team is like international team that got humiliated by Australians. Among towering individual talents the team is missing. Decentralized BCCI and more national sides is the only way of justifying cricketing spirit and vast talent pool India got. one Indian national team is grand show of wastefulness

  • Chino666 on January 20, 2012, 15:33 GMT

    Personally I think he probably misspoke when he talked about getting rid of teams like Jharkhand and Kerala. He probably meant that they should be merged with better nearby teams so maybe having a combined Kerala/Karnataka team or Haryana/Punjab or Railways/Services in the ranji trophy.

  • dr.jha on January 20, 2012, 15:18 GMT

    pitches : seam... pace... bounce...grass.. movement.... start with this... that'll be a good one

  • foursandsixes on January 20, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    Agree with comments below - the most important thing is to prepare pitches with bounce for all domestic matches, they should also aid spin so we don't forget that art. For test matches and ODIs, we should continue to prepare turning tracks for Eng, SA, and Australia to exploit their weakness against spin. But the domestic leagues should produce batsmen that are better prepared to play on bouncy wickets.

  • Sanks555 on January 20, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    I think the changes are not implementable. BCCI is a private club consortium with the state associations (and some non-state associations such as Railways and Services) as its members. How can BCCI vote out more than 50 percent of its members? This is simply an impossibility.

    The second question is: what will players from the other associations do? The proposed structure will create a powerful political situation.The state associations of BCCI closely mirror the actual states of India.

    The only solutions is: The 12-member Ranji trophy is more of a continuation of the current elite league with no scope for non-elite members to win the Ranji that year. Even this proposal will never win the votes.

  • AmitSB on January 20, 2012, 14:44 GMT

    And by the way Haryana produced Kapil Dev, he conveniently forgot that. He is just sucking up to the elites in domestic cricket. Actually to improve Indian cricket we need to get rid of elitist thinking like Harsha's who think they know whats best for Indian cricket but have for years just sat by and gone along with the establishment thinking

  • on January 20, 2012, 14:43 GMT

    Harsha, Rajasthan is 404/2 off... just imagine... 180 overs, with a some Saxena scoring a double ton of 555 balls!!!! Indian cricketers are playing Ranji because they want to make "impression" and "statistics"!!!! We should grow up to the time when teams play for "wins" and "points" and not for worthless "first innings leads"... Ranji Trophy was a waste and will remain a waste... For it to really succeed, top players should play... and for them to play, the prize money should be lucrative... Just increase the prize money and Harsha will stop talking of whether to have 12 teams or 18 teams or whatever... The three point formula would be: 1. Increase prize money, 2. Open transfers of players across states, 3. Do away with advantage for "first innings lead", 4. Include foreign players, 5. Make it compulsory for contracted players to play minimum number of matches to be eligible for National team selection, 6. Stop worrying about the format like Harsha Bhogle!!!

  • AmitSB on January 20, 2012, 14:38 GMT

    This is the worst idea I've ever read. Has the premier league been diluted by so many teams? Or the American baseball or football leagues? Rather than try to improve the standard of the game you think that allowing only 200 odd players to compete for the national team makes it competitive? It seems like a joke you've studied in management! Improve the pitches, improve the coaching. Make the physical education teachers at primary level improve the sport! Have proper school level events instead of the partisan selection procedure followed. I think the idea of limiting teams sis so preposterous! And who will pay for the livelihood of hundreds of players who will lose out because of this? You mean to say that we should go back to the times of old cricket which only allowed cricket to be played between elite maharaja's who can afford to play the game without any worry of finances, even if they manage to play for India or not. CHANGE THE SYSTEM! NOT RUIN THE LIVELIHOOD OF EVERY CRICKETER!

  • on January 20, 2012, 14:34 GMT

    NO need to change 12 team ranji format as BCCI in their dreams would also play with 25 team format.But One need to change the playing time instead of having ur cup of tea in the morning at 8 am,nd pitch getting baked we should start play by early so that batsmen could be tested as early morning would definately give some amount of swing for ex: in vadodara we could start play at 8 am or in kolkatta 7am play could be started. also instead of having first innings lead points the format should be limited overs test cricket we will have first innings of 135 ovrs each teams(means 3 days get over) nd for the second innings 45 ovrs each (4 th day ) nd the teams can carry over their pending overs in the second innings if they get all out at least we will have win/loose situation ??What do you say harsha??????????

  • SumitSahai on January 20, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    After every humiliation, those who love Indian cricket come up with these ideas. I've seen enough Indian cricket to feel that absolutely nothing along these lines will ever be done by the BCCI. If the BCCI really had the interest of the national team's performance at heart, they would have taken several hard decisions years ago. But for whatever reason, they have not. While Harsha's idea is sound, it is merely a delusional wish. Turkeys don't vote for Christmas, and Kerala and Goa will not vote for going into a catchment area either. There is a price to pay for democracy, and since the BCCI is a 'democratic' body, Indian cricket and its followers will continue to pay the price. Of course if the BCCI was a private company with the players and fans as shareholders, things would be different and Harsha might even have found employment there.

  • on January 20, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    As far as shortoning the ranji format would be impossible for BCCI.....so my suggestion is to basically start cricket matches early in time so that swing would be available for bowlers for example if we are playing in vadodara we could start play by 8am instead of 9.30am or in kolkata start play by 7am instead of 8.30am. It would atleast test openers nd some help for bowlers also instead of having 4 day game the test format could be limited overs 1st innings limited to 135 ovrs each innings(both innings get over by the end of 3rd day) nd second innings 45 ovrs each innings(which will be played in the fourth day) teams can carry forward their overs quota if they get all out in first innings at least we will have a win/loose solution rather than having teams batting it out once to gain lead for points example: Look at Ranji final with Rajastan batting it out 2days scoring 400 runs in 180 overs which will help them win by first innings lead but what would be gained???

  • on January 20, 2012, 14:12 GMT

    No reason why Haryana should not be in the top 12 if Rajasthan are. It is not that Rajasthan as a state is producing quality cricketers. Aakash Chopra and Hrishikesh Kanitkar have moved to Rajasthan, Pankaj Singh is a UP lad and many others simply play for Rajasthan because they got the opportunity there. This is something even Himachal is following and may rise up from the Plate league to upset many in the coming years. On the contrary, Haryana has a good sporting culture with a state government that goes the full way to promote sports. Haryana should be in the top 12 or clubbed with Delhi.

    If the quality of cricket in Ranji Trophy rises, so will it in Duleep trophy. Also, with BCCI willing to invite a foreign team in the Duleep trophy, no reason why it should become redundant. Duleep Trophy means the best individual players from Ranji play against each other. What should become redundant are Syed Mushtaq trophy n Deododhar trophy. Unfortunately, you don't talk about them.

  • on January 20, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    Excellent idea if implemented could bring long term success. We need to have the vision..let's say to make India No.1 test team in the world by 2017. Current crop of administrators lack vision, they are only bothered about financials totally ignoring the fact that money will come only if national team does well. BCCI needs to adopt the corporate structure, they need to hire professional CEO who needs to be given clear mandate on reforming domestic cricket and make it in line with the Australian domestic structure, only than we would be having sound bench strength. However I doubt this will happen because BCCI is not known for such brave decisions.

  • santagop on January 20, 2012, 13:50 GMT

    Although I agree that changes can be made in the Ranji and other tournaments, I dont agree with the way Harsha has proposed. 1. We definitely need both the Elite and the Plate league. Any national sporting structure includes levels where in you have promotion and relegation. You cant just say these are the 12 teams that will play and we will ignore the rest without considering the performance. 2. Its mentioned that there are no players in the Indian team from the plate league, this is also true in any sporting structure. How many English footballers are from League 1 or 2. 3. I think we are producing good enough cricketers to play in India. So I dont see any changes in that. 4. For oversees, one suggestion could be once the Ranji trophy is over, make a India-A team and let them play in county championship in Australia / England. The same can be done for Australia/England A teams as well.

  • on January 20, 2012, 13:39 GMT

    How about shortening the IPL? The whole article is about providing rest and relief post and pre IPL. What if the IPL was a 3 week tournament?

  • Alkais on January 20, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    Its high time to stop announcing the team a winner based on first innings lead. All the ranji trophy match should be a 5 day event. All the ranji trophy matches should be played on sporting pitch. Currently, the team which wins the toss ends up piling runs in the first innings and ends up the winner. This should be abolished. If home team prepares flat pitches, they should penalised. Making 12 team ranji trophy competition will increase the quality of cricket, and also will make players who are selected to play in the 12 team to fine tune their technique. All 12 team should play on sporting pitches and on neutral venues. No matches should be played on home pitches. This way it will improve the quality of players and improve the bench strength.All the indian team players should be asked to play in domestic matches atleast a minimum of 6 matches. This will also help to assess bowler's skill against top class players.

  • on January 20, 2012, 13:06 GMT

    Nice concept by Harsha Bhogle...If such kind of changes would have been done by the BCCI,then Indian team's No.1 status could have been retained now.Indian cricket board needs to make whirlwind changes..

  • sharidas on January 20, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    Its a good idea. The left out teams should be able to have their players compete in the closest league( say Kerala players in Tamil Nadu league and so on.), so anyone good enough will get a chance

  • leslie_alo on January 20, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    What would an Indian fan have felt when Srikkanth told media there was nothing much he could do last day. If he could not have done much who could have, Indian fan wonders. Fate was written long before when India faltered in South Africa, followed by England and now in Australia. What is the homework these intelligent guys have contributed for Indian cricket, fan wonders. The domestic trophies should have been held in bouncy or square turners. Any sensible fan can understand that with the advent of IPL, pitches have been flattened out and now there are neither turners or bouncy pitches. Pity to see score of 410/2 by Rajasthan -did it help Indian cricket!! This is the simple reason why Indian produce cricketers a la S Ramesh, Wasim Jaffer, Murali Vijay, Yuvraj, Raina et al who are clueless when ball starts bouncing above knee. Solution is simple - create a board of paid curators and hold them responsible; they should be answerable only to BCCI, not home teams in domestic.

  • JayPadia on January 20, 2012, 12:15 GMT

    Haha Harsha, your suggestions sound good and useful - top players should compete each other and not get diluted into plate and elite. But the fans here, most of whom never watch or rarely follow a first class game will not take it. Especially the idea of scrapping some teams; in a country with such strong sense of regionalism.

  • SivaSVB95 on January 20, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    Have a look at Aus pitches:Perth-bouncy and pacy;MCG-seamer friendly;SCG-offers turn;Adelaide-batsman friendly.So,Indian pitches should have diversity in them if India want 2 perform well abroad.

  • on January 20, 2012, 11:49 GMT

    Some drastic changes are definitely required. Instead of a state-wise division, boards must be divided into 12 regions and then we could have one team per board.

  • akashchandran on January 20, 2012, 11:28 GMT

    Merging associations that have been there for long is not easy. Hence the practical way is to improve upon the present system of Elite and plate groups. The present 15 teams in the Elite group could be reduced to the best 10(2 grps of 5 with a final and matches for 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th) and the plate group competition could be again sub-divided into a second tier of the top 8 playing among themselves and the remaining 9/10 playing in a third division(each year 2 teams getting relegated/upgraded). Points for first innings lead should be less and should be awarded only by the umpires if they decide that the team having the lead is in a definite winning position at the end of the 4th day. A team selected from the best performing juniors/U-19 in the previous year should be played in the second or third tier of the plate group. One team each in the Elite group and the second tier can be made up of the best performing players respectively in the second and third tier in the previous year.

  • prasanth.kongati on January 20, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    Thanks harsha for igniting and working on solutions at root level rather than cribbing lengthy articles. Some people even throwing free one line advices.

    You may missed the point about pitches and high quality coaches right at ranji levels working on quality and spin bowling.

    I am not sure why india failing to produce bowlers like saeed ajmal with lot of variety.

  • aarke on January 20, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    just chill man,PLayers had done great job in past also they shae great records. however presently they are not doing well.but this happens to every one .they had brought world cup to home ,what we want more? ya its true that WC should not be aim .Regular matches should also important .BUT first one thing i must ask bcci that they are using players as run making machines ,they r also humans ,they also needs rest .so i must say that bcci should reduse d no of matches n ensure that players have enough time for practice before a series .

  • Captain_Crick on January 20, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    Prepare good sporting pitches at home - suited to both fast bowlers, seamers and spinners in different parts of India. Let the top Ranji players thrive on all condiions and prove their mettle. Only then you can be a consistent top Indian team at home (Read - Medium pace/Spin conditions) and away (Read- Swing/Pace and Bounce conditions).

    Make Ranji a 5-Day fixture for all matches and prepare sporting tracks. With the ongoing Ranji finals played between TN and Raj played on a flat pitch with low bounce, things don't seem promising in the near future.

  • Sarthak1305 on January 20, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    Instead of abolishing Kerala, Goa, Tripura, Assam, J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Orissa and Services have a separate tournament for them where the 2 finalist compete with Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh (including Hyderabad), Maharashtra (including Mumbai), Gujarat (including Vadodara and Saurashtra), Central India (including Vidarbha, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand), Rajasthan, Delhi, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bengal. Like this if the other teams have talented players they have a chance to make it to the national team and we will have 13 odd teams playing ranji and fighting for national squad

  • Roykunal on January 20, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    Nice article but that will be a loss for players of other states which you have just eliminated from Ranji.No one knows what lies in future.Maybe those states can produce some good fast bowlers or good batsmen capable of playing good Test Innings in Oz or English or South african pitches.Moreover the BCCI is not going to think about anything other than MONEY MONEY or MONEY.The only thing that can be done to improve the condition of Indian team touring overseas is to prepare some artificial Hard and Bouncy pitches.The climatic conditions are different here but we can try for artificial turfs in some of the stadiums if not all.Otherwise we would be producing world class players in subcontinental conditions but zeroes for overseas tours.whatever modifications are done in Ranji or Duleep or Irani,we would get good players for only subcontinental pitches.Better to try for new pitches...

  • on January 20, 2012, 10:44 GMT

    I think more than rehauling the domestic structrue its the faulty selection policies which need a rre-look. its high time selectors look at domestic performers especially when selecting a test team. V lost solid test cricketers like amol muzumdar, wasimm jaffar and may lose many more like pujara & co if selection is based on IPLOR ONEDAY MATCHES.selectors backed wrong horses and players like yuvi,raina, praveen made it to test team bcos they were part of oneday setup. that's ridiculous. And the result is evident now. What on earth makes rahul sharma earn his place in one day team without having played even ten domestic games.If things continue like this v will never find replacements for our ageing trio.

  • on January 20, 2012, 10:34 GMT

    I do disagree on the discrimination point.. how did he select those 11 teams.. it should be totally merit based.. sorry Harsha get your thoughts right.. it should be 11 groups rather than 11 teams pre-defined.. India should stop this regional fiefdom business in cricket... It is very biased against states which have talent but don't have facilities like Jharkhand, Orissa etc

  • ashishmishra on January 20, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    18 teams (10 in Elite & 8 in Plate) for Ranji . Promotion & relegation for 2 team. Elite (TN, KARNATAK, MUM, RAJ, PUNJAB & HRYANA, DL, U.P., WB, RAIL & Services, GUJRAT). Plate (Kerala, Bihar & Jharkhand, M.P., Assam & North East, J&K & Himachal P, Andhra P, Orissa, Maharashtra & Goa). Then Duleep trophy. 4 match for each team and then a final. Each zone main selector will be part of Nation selection panel. Zone coaches will be part of NCA. For Indian team, Coach and support staff position will be available for only those guys who have spent at least last one year with any zone team (and there will be no parachute posting). Same structure will be in place for A-List matches. In Challenger trophy Zone team will be part of that, T-20 will be played within Zonal team and each zone top-team will play in main tournament. IPL should be conducted with 9 teams (each team 8 matches) then Semifinals & Final( within 4 weeks). But I doubt Harsha will say to reduce IPL matches 

  • on January 20, 2012, 10:20 GMT

    If you want to remove Kerala, I suggest you remove Gujarat, they have not produced any players of success!

  • gorsi on January 20, 2012, 10:12 GMT

    There is a constant criticism of our Domestic circuit when we lose Abroad. What i dont understand is how do u blame domestic circuit when u select players only on their performances in IPL !!! How ridiculous is that ? does anyone bother to even know who is highest wicket taker or run scorer in ranji. Is it the fault of domestic circuit or selectors ? How on earth would u justify selection of Aravind as indian spearhead, who was bowling left arm spin in Ranji game the other day. Whereas you look at the players who have done good in ranji has done well for country eventually.. So called legendary teams selected by harsha out of blue with some cynic criteria are all faltering these days and minnows reaching into semis n finals since new Elite-Plate is in place let it be this way only. If he is to experiment he better do that in domestic one day or even 20-20 leagues. rather than destroying the charm(only thing BCCI cant kill) of Ranji. M off to enjoy ranji till it Lasts !!!

  • moBlue on January 20, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    i don't like harsha's proposed changes... for the simple reason that many cricketers, some potentially talented, will be left out of national reckoning altogether, if they hail from the backwaters and not from bombay! fairness to all indian cricket lovers, especially teenagers and young cricketers, should *never* be relegated to second place - or completely ignored as harsha is recommending! - just because he thinks we will produce a better away team! there is no such guarantee! for instance, more players from mumbai and delhi will get picked as used to happen before! but there have always been more talented cricketers - in fact the best of the lot under pressure, VVS, is an example - from other places! besides, everyone knows our selectors are totally messed up! the days of mismanaging mohinder amarnath are not over! i suggest playing on a combination of spin-friendly as well as fast and bouncy pitches in IND as the first and foremost consideration! then improve the selection process!

  • on January 20, 2012, 9:36 GMT

    I think if the intent is to make sure fewer but only the best players compete then in theory a 12 team Ranji trophy is appropriate. However We got quite a few players from lesser known teams who played for India. So many of them came from UP, Jharkhand, Saurashtra which perhaps may not have happened if we had 12 teams only. England follows similar model like ours and they are no. 1 team today. I think its good if more players are exposed but the need is to maintain high standard of the game. Maybe by getting overseas players to play for weaker teams and guide the locals.

  • Busie1979 on January 20, 2012, 9:36 GMT

    Sound in theory. It doesn't squeeze out players from the teams that miss out. These players can always compete in second XIs so they will still have opportunities if they score runs or take wickets. The best bowlers need to bowl to the best batsman. Then the statistics at domestic level have more meaning.

    That would rectify a big part of the problem with Indian cricket. There are two other issues: (1) Culture - there is too much fixation with personal milestones. Would Dhoni have declared a batsman was 329 not out? (2) Pitches - they need at least a couple of grounds with seaming wickets. The best pace bowlers (Ishant Sharma?) are starved of the opportunity to bowl in an attacking manner. The best batsman (like Sehwag?) are starved of the opportunity to develop skills on international pitches.

    If these things were rectified, India would be almost unbeatable.

  • on January 20, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    I guess..by doing that we are making cricket to few pockets rather than spreading it across all nook n corners...i must also add that we have our Indian captain from Ranchi i.e; from Jharkhand which didn't had any reconing till mahi came into picture.... Its a good idea to make two pools including top, medium & low rated teams equally divided on either side of the pool

  • bestbuddy on January 20, 2012, 9:29 GMT

    Harsha Bhogle has a point - you only have to look at the increasing number of triple centuries made domestically in India compared to the utter failure of India's batting in England and Aus to know the system has watered down the talent too much. South Africa had the same problem about 10 years ago when they played with 10 separate domestic cricket unions; a good core of 7-9 international players, but the rest struggled to make the step up. The franchise system in place now means far more competitive cricket which prepares them better for the step up to international cricket, and there is a second semi-professional tier below that where younger/injured players can be eased back in 3-day and 20-20 matches

  • Daveptee on January 20, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    time to get ex -cricketers take over all aspects of the game...including commentary.

  • GRAMMY_SACHIN on January 20, 2012, 9:26 GMT

    Really pathetic to see 362/1 in 155 over (Runrate 2.33) in India's Premier Tirnament Final tells you the story. I don't know what Rajasthan is doing or the curator wanted the pitch to last for one month of cricket. Absolute shame.

  • sanusoman321 on January 20, 2012, 9:21 GMT

    In simple ... this is totally waste ... :)

    I've one question to Harsha, The time when we are dominating in the world cricket (Test number one and one day world champions), why you won't came up with these suggestions ??

  • ultimatewarrior on January 20, 2012, 9:16 GMT

    Dear Harsha & BCCI-I had an option on your line of action. (1)Just leave Ranji Trophy as it is-it's nursery for all players.(2)Abolish Duleep Trophy & may be Irani Trophy also.(3.1)Start an IPL like concept for a four day tournament (WITHOUT INVOLVING CORPORATE OR WITHOUT COMMERCIALISM)(3.2)5 Teams x 25 players = top 125 players - essentially not to be biased on regionalism.(3.3)Point system should lead to the result oriented matches(3.4)BCCI is very much able to organize some matches on fast pitches outside subcontinent(3.5)Play on both type of pitches, Spin and Fast (50% each)(3.6) Every team should play twice each against rest teams one on fast pitch and one on spin pitch (3.7) When Indian players will have exposure to quality players & fast bowling pitches in first class - they will give better output in internationals. (3.8)Give best training facilities (3.9)allow ex-internationals of Indians & others to be1 batsman &1 bowler each for a team(3.10)to elaborate anything, mail me :)

  • TheWonderBoy on January 20, 2012, 9:12 GMT

    @Sherry Roy : Spot on Sherry.... @Harsha : I have been a big big fan of Harsha Bhogle from d day i started watching cricket....besides his exemplary insights about cricket,one of d other reasons being dat he is an IIM grad and decided to pursue wat he likes most in his career :) .... But in reference to this article i wud certainly like to enquire harsha about the future of cricketers belonging to remaining 9 states which acc. 2 him must be scrapped off...One can't just decide to remove any team by sighting d reason of excessiveness...dere must be some logical alternative to safeguard the interests of these players...and until n unless dere is some well thought of medium, v shud not thnk of removing dese teams altogether......One LAST thing... Our "once in a generation bowler" (as viewed by Harsha himself) comes from a state none other than KERALA...

  • on January 20, 2012, 9:05 GMT

    Harsha is right as far as reviving Indian cricket fortunes through domestic cricket is concerned.First of all our star players must participate in the National tournament, that gives impetus to the budding players.There was time when Umrigar,Gavaskar,Vishwanath,Rusy Modi, Merchant,Hazare, Manjrekar,Nadkarni etc all felt proud to be playing for their state, today none of our great players like to be part of Ranji trophy because of reasons best known to them.Can anyone enlighten me as to how many Ranji- Duleep matches Mr.S.R.Tendulkar has played in last 3-4 years ? Earlier the tour program of visiting teams were so planned that they played matches against Zonal Teams, Ranji Champions and Test matches....these days a dozen teams come year after year- play a few tests and some ODI's; where do we give chance to upcoming players? How many matches have V.Saxena & Bist played against visitors - they will be straight way pitchforked into Test arena ...IMPROVE DOMESTIC CRICKET by involving all.

  • on January 20, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    nice article, but nothing is going to happen.. the BCCI is not going to do anything.. just heard an interview yesterday on NDTV of Mr Srinivisan the BCCI president abd he says everything is fine, this team can still b good.... with that attitude no improvements can b made... there was 1 announcement recently of a progressive step of creating a pool of fast bowlers but nothing has happened since then.. i hope atleast that materailizes

  • on January 20, 2012, 8:38 GMT

    The real problem for India at this point of time is the fact that Indian players dont get enough time to prepare for overseas tour ,we had 5 days to prepare for England and then just 15 days to prepare for this tour,which is very less compared to England's last Ashes winning preparation which started 1 month before the first test they played in Australia .You could probably argue to the fact that England are now struggling in UAE but still they did prepare sufficiently well in Australia to play against the bounce and pace in Australia which is different from the swinging conditions in England.And BCCI will always play more and more profitable home ODIs leaving no time to prepare for an oveseas TEST series .What Harsha has said is something that we have been lacking in ever since but that is not the most necessary requirement what the most necessary requirement is people who can administerIndian cricket well .

  • MichaelG on January 20, 2012, 8:37 GMT

    You know, India's a pretty big country... perhaps it's time the Ranji trophy sides to be given Test status and full membership of the ICC. Having India as a national side makes as much sense as Europe as a single football team.

  • on January 20, 2012, 8:33 GMT

    Good article as usual but I hope BCCI sits up and takes notice. As you said, this is just one part, there are various other things that need to be looked at to make Team India a consistently mean machine. But I expected you to comment impartially on Indian team's batting failures at this time and what our near and long term solutions to those

  • kasyapm on January 20, 2012, 8:30 GMT

    Excellent piece. The 12 team system appears compact and good enough. But, there are clear organizational hurdles. I don't think many state associations will be happy with this idea. But as Harsha pointed out, the most necessary thing is intent. Rest will follow. Win-loss instead of profit-loss - brilliant!

  • on January 20, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    That will mean that Cricket will be pocketed in Big states....But check the stats the famous cricketers are coming from Rural & unrecognized places n make thre own mark....so lets not make it constrained to particular areas

  • SRT_GENIUS on January 20, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    Frankly - this a really immature article. Its like a child wondering why we can't we print money and make everyone rich ? You can't wipe nearly a 100 years history in to suit your whims. Maybe Mr Bhogle doesn't have time to watch Plate matches - that doesn't mean its useless or needs to be scrapped! :) The good players from the plate leagues will come up, regardless of Mr Bhogle (who I guess started watching Ranji only from semi-finals onwards).

  • on January 20, 2012, 8:25 GMT

    Harsha's point has point! There are just way too many teams in the domestic set up right now. Also required would be a significant increase in the remuneration for the domestic players- we need more more Cheteshwar Pujara's and not Suresh Raina's - and the country to identify the major hosting centers and get specialist help in preparing good test match wickets on which Ranji matches can be played. Centers like Nagpur, Gwalior, Kanpur, Kolkata, Mohali, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai should be extensively used. Not centers where the crowd interest is less and pitches are questionable. Indian curators must get help from the best curators around the world if the are to produce world class domestic pitches on which world class players can be produced

  • vinaynkumar on January 20, 2012, 8:25 GMT

    Harsha, this is excellent; just what is expected from you; high quality and relevance. However, I have a question, would you take up the BCCI president's role if offered and if yes, how long would you take to turn our cricket administration around to look at win loss statements as opposed to profit -loss statements like you rightly mentioned?

  • Vallam on January 20, 2012, 8:17 GMT

    A good article.Everyone interested about Indian cricket should read this including BCCI- I only hope they are also interested about Indian cricket- otherwise they wil not have the millions to enjoy. Besides the 12 teams suggested,they should bea 13th team for players outside these 12 teams- combined XI-so there is competition in other teams to get into the combined XI. Make the Ranji Trophy 4 day game and make playing in the competition is as a minimum requirment for getting selected for Indian XI including for MR SRT-whohas not played much of Ranji.

  • Gizza on January 20, 2012, 8:16 GMT

    In my previous post I forgot about Tripura which would also go into East India. Railways and Services may be combined although different industries. Also "blaming the IPL" is not passive thinking or a cosmetic change Harsha. A real change to India's domestic scene means revamping the Ranji/Duleep AND reducing the impact of the IPL. They go hand-in-hand. And dropping old failing players at the moment is still a good idea. It is important to be active when it comes to short-term decisions (dropping the old and bringing in the new), medium-term decisions (lessening the IPL/T20 effect) and long-term decisions (first-class structure). They're all important. Don't hide your COI.

  • Gizza on January 20, 2012, 8:04 GMT

    Reducing the number of teams is definitely good Harsha but the names shouldn't just be names of one state. Central India is a good suggestion. Orissa and Assam under your model would probably be catchment areas for Bengal. Why not call it East India. The combined Mumbai, Maharashtra, Vidarbha and Goa teams should be called Maharashtra and Goa. You can't just kick out the smaller states from the name. Otherwise use the name for the entire region. JK, HP, Haryana and Punjab can all come under North India. And because the Duleep will be made redundant, this won't confuse people. The new tournament will sort of be a mix of Ranji and Duleep by creating an intermediate number of teams. And Meety's suggestion is also crucial, fix the pitches! Mix it up maybe just two of the 12 teams can have green pitches but they should be genuinely green.

  • on January 20, 2012, 7:54 GMT

    Brilliant Suggestion by Man who understands cricket Problems from Deep. But i am concerned about Intent of Our board. Is our board long term in its approach? I never seen that sort of intent or it never shown publically ? What is investment procedure of Board in young talent at school or college level ? Or board just aiming itself for reeping the profit ? We have to look last 4 test concluded recently Two of them completed with 3 days and other two within 4 days. See the level of International Test Cricket these days. SHort term approach really kiling the Core of Cricket.

  • Mastmale on January 20, 2012, 7:51 GMT

    Harsha, the Ranji Trophy final is going on with Rajasthan batting at the rate of 2 runs per over.Why? Because they know that they can win the Trophy on the basis of 1st innngs lead. That is the biggest problem right there. How can you expect players bred on this mentality to compete in Test cricket where you need to perform over 4 innings? Forget having 12 teams. Just scrap the 1st innings points rule, convert all Ranji games to 5 day games and incentivize result oriented cricket.

  • bighit14 on January 20, 2012, 7:47 GMT

    I am very very sure this "Great Idea" will just remain a great idea. There will be no signs of implementation

  • Remo_Bond on January 20, 2012, 7:44 GMT

    @Harsha..

    There's a better way of doing this. Divide the 27 associations into 12 groups.. Now how they select the teams is the head ache of the selection panel for the group. Also this way yo are not leaving out any part of india and are also ensuring that number of teams stays less..

  • on January 20, 2012, 7:42 GMT

    Absoulutely true. There is no need for many teams and grouping. Its degrading Indian cricket standards rather than improving. Its awsome thinking by Harsha. This will make Ranji matches more interesting.

  • on January 20, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    Indian team should be given rest during Ranji season and should be left to players to decide whether they play for their state. I believe Ranji season should at least attract 60% coverage of what IPL gets.

  • ListenToMe on January 20, 2012, 7:00 GMT

    So Harsha is assessing that Kerala, Goa, J&K etc can neve produce good teams at all! Just tell me how can they improve without playing matches? This is simply foolish. The problem with India as everyone knows is with the pitches. That is they don't play well in bouncy and swinging pitches. So the solution is simple. Just make those kinds of pitches in India too. Why do you need to change the whole system? Don't we have enough talented cricketers in India now? What wrong has this system has done to Indian cricket? We still have enough talents in domestic cricket. Just let them experience in bouncy and seaming wickets.

  • rahulcricket007 on January 20, 2012, 6:50 GMT

    WHY NOT WE PREPARE SOME FAST TRACKS IN RANJI MATCHES ? THE FINAL PITCH IN CHENNAI IS A BELTER . WE SHOULD PREARE PITCHES LIKE THE SEMIFIANL PITCH B/W HARIYANA & RAJASTHAN WHICH MATCH ENDED IN 3 DAYS WITH ALL THE FOUR INNINGS GETTING BOWLED UNDER 200.

  • ramyangshu on January 20, 2012, 6:39 GMT

    every time India loses a series in the countries with so called fast bouncy pitches, there is a cry to build pitches that are fast bouncy, not-indian slow turners. I think the reasoning is essentially flawed as the fav four or whatever you call them came through the same pitches. It is the quality of player not the quality of pitches that needs to change. All players are brought up on a certain kind of pitch and have to adapt to the other sort. Period. perhaps more A tours without selection bias can be an answer. About reformatting the ranji trophy, well, i am skeptical to say the least. A smaller twelve team version will indeed improve the quality of the cricket, no doubt, but it will lessen the chance for small state players to emerge, and in turn will lessen interest in the game in these states.

  • IndiaNeedsBowlers on January 20, 2012, 6:38 GMT

    I agree with Harsha on 2 points. 1. Increase quality of competition and 2. Have a proper cricketing season (well managed calender). Now here is my suggestion, why not ask the IPL franchises to own the Ranji teams as well. The franchises can play the 4 day competition from November to January. This will obviously require increasing the number of IPL franchises, which could be good. Then allow a few International players maybe 3 per team to play. This will bring in good quality bowlers (fast & spin) prepare our batsmen to play better. Also agree with Meety's comment on pitches. The Franchises can then prepare pitches that suite there team. For instance a Deccan Charger team which consists of good fast bowlers and a wrist spinner may want bouncy pitches (home advantage), while MI might want to have good batting tracks, and CSK may want to have slow turners. Also with corporates getting involved the viewrship will improve which will also make the first class tournament popular.

  • on January 20, 2012, 6:31 GMT

    If a few teams are playing the plate league, whats the harm. There are enough cricketers, the good ones get noticed anyhow. This is typically happens when teams lose.... The same system made India no1, the so called awesome county system produced completely rubbish English teams from the 1990-2005. There are phases. The good one for the India test team is over, another may or may not come soon. All this won't help.

  • on January 20, 2012, 6:21 GMT

    Why cant v have a structure like IPL?Like you said...have 12 teams but not State side...instead have 10-10 or 12-12 city based teams in 2 leagues A & B...hav relegations & promotion for 2/3 teams....every team shud b given a certain amt of total funds to employ players..hav 3 grades payments...hav a limit of no. of players in each grade...so if u play well u cn get a better grade n hence salary...have a transfers kinda thg like Football!!have 3 day matches...wid 1st innings ltd to 80overs each side...2nd innings cn b unltd...dis will also help in judgin winners on basis of 1st innings!hav a final of top 2 teams in league standings for a jackpot cash prize!!hav no other first class tournament besides this... Plus hav just one one day tournament similarly...dis help us in havin professional players..also set a min no. of First Class (5matches) &/or 1-days matches (10 Matches) players need 2 play 2 b selected in IPL!!

  • on January 20, 2012, 6:12 GMT

    Continued from above 5. Make sure the stadiums are well maintained and take care of the paying public and the officials at the grounds are helpful, cooperative and courteous 6. I went to the MCG for the first test and was amazed at the wonderful National Meusuem of Sports and also been to Lords and seen the MCC museum. Where is the indian equivalent 7. Make sure the websites of BCCI and affiliated associations are up to date. I am interested in becoming an umpire I have written to all email ids published at the KSCA website. Each one of them bounced. Even having Kumble and Srinath does not help

    8. and finally.... bcci.tv tells you what the priorities are i mean .TV come on

  • on January 20, 2012, 6:12 GMT

    There is merit in proposing 12 teams. But i guess the voting issues or the votes of various boards during BCCI general election never allow or initiate such decision from the board.

  • Sankara on January 20, 2012, 6:07 GMT

    I think the idea of 12 teams is good, particularly combining the multiple teams in one state. However, there should be a chance for people from other states also to come up. Imagine, if this system was in place long time back, we would not have had a Kapil Dev playing for India. Or if 12 best teams were to be picked 10 years back, Rajasthan may not have figured. The point is that except for a few stable ones like Mumbai and Karnataka, the 12 top teams wont be the the same for all time to come. At the same time we must provide opportunities for exceptional talent from smaller Associations, be it a Sreesant or ab Deb Mohanti to come through to the national side as well. Weather they manage to stay there for long, like the two mentioned here, is another matter

  • on January 20, 2012, 6:06 GMT

    Well Harsha BCCI is not interested in honesty or introspection if it were we would have been in a much better situation right now not just in terms of indian cricket team let me point out some of the things BCCI could and should've done with its money 1. Have an "effective" program for producing good pitches. The pitch at Chepauk for the ranji final is a an abomination 2. Have an program for exposing young cricketers to bouncy pitches in Australia and south africa by playing their domestic competetion. How much would a raina have benefitted if he had played there vs playing zillion meaning less ODIs 3. Have a succession plan for players captains, coaches and administrators 4. Have an effective program for identifying, promoting and nurturing umpiring. it is a shame that a country like india does not have proper representation in the elite panel COntd..

  • on January 20, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    I have always admired Harsha as a Thinker in this game. His views are always spot on and they must be adhered too. BCCI must think long term with an eye upon the short term objectives too,in other words its like targeting for future by having several small term goals.

  • on January 20, 2012, 5:41 GMT

    Nice attempt Harsha... but futile... Remember this the BCCI we are talking about. Since when did they start caring about the cricket??

  • VickGower on January 20, 2012, 5:33 GMT

    The first para is about the most ill-logical piece of writing that I have seen among cricinfo pundits. May I offer that I do believe in those list of systemic fixes while also believing our selectors have lacked vision, some of our senior players have overstayed their welcome, & that IPL is good for cricketers but has side effects that need careful managing? I mean, the world is not an appliance that one can pause, make systemic changes to, turn on, & reboot Indian cricket. While we breathlessly await those systemic fixes, are we to twiddle our thumbs? It might surprise Harsha to know that Rohit/Rahane regard themselves as more than lipsticks. Not endowed with a pundit's penchant for wisdomgoguery, they might like (while the systemic fixing is happening) to be given an opportunity to fail! If Pakistan can churn out winning teams despite systemic dysfunction can 1.2 billion people not turn out 4-5 batsmen who can overcome conditions that in anycase are hardly as bad as their neighbors?

  • on January 20, 2012, 5:30 GMT

    Harsha,

    Your intentions are good but your thoughts and ideas are going to fall on deaf ears. People at the top of BCCI are here only to fill their coffers and do not see themselves as custodians of the game.

  • on January 20, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    With IPL we want cricket to expand but the quality needs to be intact in 4 day. The main problem is also scheduling. There are not enough 4 days matches in India.

    http://worldcricketstory.blogspot.com/2011/08/reschedule-domestic-cricket.html

    Article highlights the issues and possible solutions

  • on January 20, 2012, 5:25 GMT

    So if I'm a Ranji cricketer from Kerala, Goa, Tripura, Assam, J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Orissa or Services, what should I be doing now? Attempt to play for some of the well off teams, and if that's not possible, stop playing cricket at this level altogether? At a time the world is trying to invest in Tier ll & Tier lll cities in India for the retail potential, the author suggests that we return to the antique urbanisation model.

  • Sridhar1702 on January 20, 2012, 5:24 GMT

    This is with reference to Harsha Bhogle's well constructed article on how to revive the flagging fortunes of Indian cricket. Sure, an intensely competitive Ranji Trophy can be expected to produce a steady stream of top quality players.

    But even such players can be successful overseas only if the matches are played on hard, grassy surfaces that shamelessly aid swing, pace and bounce.

    One reason why selectors keep picking the same set of players regardless of their aging skills is because the tons of runs scored by young players in the domestic circuit on dead surfaces are meaningless when assembling a squad for Test Cricket in Australia, England or South Africa where the ball moves, darts, and bounces at a furious pace.

    What beats millions of cricket fans here is why cannot a country that builds everything from rockets and space ships to high rise buildings and huge stadiums, not prepare fast, bouncy pitches?

  • Meety on January 20, 2012, 5:11 GMT

    I don't follow the Ranji closely, I must say though 0/220 in a day (the final), is a major issue. Firstly reducing the FC teams to 12 is a VERY good move. England have more but employ a lot of overseas players. As I alluded to with the 0/220 scoreline in the 1st day of the Final yesterday, it's India's pitches that need to be looked at. India's home record between the England & Ozzy hidings has been good (not brilliant). The problem is that it is harder to go from low/slow pitches to bouncy & fast pitches. India need SOME pitches with a more "foreign" feel to them. It could be that each of your TWELVE teams have a couple of home grounds & that they leave more grass on some pitches. As the BCCI is good at making money, they should have some spare to purchase some of the stuff the WACA or GABBA is made of again for SOME of its pitches. I would say then they should play on some of these pitches Internationally, (sometimes). Lose some home adv, but gain so much more!!!!!!!

  • on January 20, 2012, 5:06 GMT

    It's a thought provoking article. I have a couple of suggestions myself -- maybe expand the pool to 15 and have the weaker teams identified on the basis of the preceding Ranji season to fight it out for 3 spots in the main tournament. That will keep the interest going.

    Also, a suggestion for the ICC (and the BCCI): Empower the 3rd umpire and match referee to award 50 penalty runs to the opposition for any appeal they deem frivolous. That will ensure that the game is played with intensity and purpose.

    However, knowing the BCCI, nothing concrete will happen. We will continue having people like the v=current president making irresponsible and immature statements about beating opponents when they tour India. After all, what can you expect from a cricket board that removes Kapil Dev from the NCA or allows someone of Dilip Vengsarkar's credentials to be passed over from the Chairmanship of the Mumbai Cricket Association?

  • on January 20, 2012, 4:55 GMT

    Though I am an ardent fan of Harsha Bhogle, I dont see this happening in the near future. There should indeed be two categories in Plate and elite. Anyway the players in plate are not even watched, so it is nt going to matter which team comprises of the plate group. The elite should be played only between 10 teams in one group(Just like IPL) and the last two should be relegated at the end of each season. This would make the plate group even bigger.Now comes the critical component of the rule. The top 20 performers from the Ranj Plate group(and the 2 relegated teams) needs to be selected. They have to be allocated 2 per team to the survivors of the elite group. And the teams in elite have to transfer two players from their team to the plate group. For instance, if TN takes in 2 players from the 20 players, they also have to eject two non-performing players from their team.. This would make the competition stronger and much more "intense" like Harsha has put it.

  • on January 20, 2012, 4:54 GMT

    Harsha; Im not sure reducing the number of teams is the way to go simply because India's strength, in all fields, has been its numbers and the sheer talents these numbers would automatically throw up. With the above teams you are mentioning we might never have got a Tendulkar or a Dhoni. It would be better if Ranji trophy was more competitive i.e. they HAVE to play to win and not first innings margins. If you can ensure Ranji is more competitive the standard of cricket automatically goes up and hence the national team benefits.

  • on January 20, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    I wont agree with you harsha. If some teams are omitted then how can the youngsters perfom .? I think you lost u r mind.

  • Crazy_4cricket on January 20, 2012, 4:32 GMT

    Very Good Suggestion Harsha.... But want to slightly differ with you when considering the removal of some teams Completely on the Ground of "Negligible recent contribution to Indian cricket"...I mean out of the Teams mentioned Haryana and Orissa have played Ranji Semifinals in recent past. If contribution to Indian team means providing Indian national team with some valuable player, then the suggestion might be considerd plausible... but again I think we know how the selection process used to be in recent past.

    The problem can be solved by having a small Qualifier round like the present system of Plate group. Since the number of teams will be less it will be hardly a Month Affair. Let the Selectors not follow the matches... the plate group teams will have their responsibility to qualify to be among the best 12 sides to get noticed..

  • on January 20, 2012, 4:18 GMT

    Harsha Bogle: genius at work.

  • Ramfromlanka on January 20, 2012, 4:18 GMT

    how about RPL (Ranji premier league) to get the right set of people playing for teams (11/12) from all the states ....this is sans money and coloured clothes and lights too... why disallow somebody from playing cricket just because they are from a state which is not playing

  • on January 20, 2012, 4:09 GMT

    I .fully agree with Mr. Bhogle. Further, frequency of 20-20- cricket fixtures must be shortened.IPL with less number of matches will be a good idea to get our cricketers groove back to test match temperament which is the ultimate competition in cricket .Champions League should be stopped immediately.The cricket lovers also should avoid going for 20-20 matches.Further our pitches must be revamped to get our bowlers to get some lift,movement thereby our batsmen will also benefit under foreign conditions.But all these opinions will be facing deaf ears thereby no results can be anticipated.

  • m_ilind on January 20, 2012, 4:07 GMT

    The only problem is, players in India come about as individuals, not as teams, so combining teams from several associations will certainly reduce the burden of domestic competitions, but also give less opportunity for hidden talent to emerge, particularly from not so well known places in the country. I feel the selectors have a job to do, when it comes to hunting local talent in the country. By checking out the same names and faces, the selectors are doing a great disservice to Indian cricket.

  • Mastmale on January 20, 2012, 4:02 GMT

    An idealistic suggestion that will never happen Harsha. Too many people will lose money, jobs and power if this happens. Instead, why not make the Elite League more competitive? Do away with points for the 1st innings lead and play for a result. Convert all games in the Elite League to 5-day games and give points only for victories. This will automatically produce competitive players.

  • alamgirmani on January 20, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    Let there be 2 divisions, as it is now. The Elite and Plate divisions. ten teams in each divisions. Each team play each other in a set of round robin fixtures, home and away. There's nothing new in this format, all tried and tested ones. win gives you 3 points, draw 1. the team at the top of the table wins the trophy, the bottom 2 are relegated to the Plate division, while the winner and runners-up in Plate are promoted to the top. if the teams are tied on points, then the number of wins decides the championship, if that equal too, there are other obvious parameters like, run-rate et al. but the point is, now teams play for win. the top teams cant no longer afford to draw, the teams caught up in relegation fight can't afford to lose and even worse can't afford to draw!! Same story for the Plate division too. much to the chagrin all Indians who love cricket and Drama.

  • teju666 on January 20, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    Harsha, you asking the BCCI to do all this? Really? A bunch of politically motivated, money minded business men will not bring about the changes your propose. And you have given the answer. It was and will always be about profit-loss. Name our contentious issues and money comes to the fore - DRS, IPL, calendar of the national team. Those who love the game and want it to grow are not good administrators while those who are have learnt the love of the coin over that of the ball. Good, radical ideas. Too bad they will be lost in some dusty archives in the din of Indian cricket

  • on January 20, 2012, 3:51 GMT

    Great IDEA! I hope BCCI will agree with your plan.

  • on January 20, 2012, 3:42 GMT

    I think 'density' of cricket should be one of the criterion for the reorganisation. There is too much of cricket in Mumbai as against the total of rest of Maharashtra. In such a case, the talent from the rest of the state would be wasted. So 3 teams from Maharashtra are ok. But Gujrat can be brought together. Uttar Pradesh though larger than Maharashtra, does not have as much 'density'. so it could be one state. Besides the cricket, there would be organisational issues too, for example Maharashtra CA is offering additional services to its members in their brand new stadium. Merger may not be liked by its members! I feel you should add the North east region as one unit too. Currently only Tripura plays as a unit. Mr. Bhogale should also concentrate on the split of the elite group into 7 and 8 teams, instead of having 16 ! Attention must also be paid to the grievanaces of lesser players as one of them said ,"Even if i score 100 in a sheershaasan, I will not be selected in Indian team"

  • vinayakshukre on January 20, 2012, 3:33 GMT

    Nice article Harsha... 3-4 bowlers were in competition for place in aussie team at the start of this series...... It happens because of their strong domestic cricket. If Zaheer khan is not available then there is nobody to pick his position and indian bowling attack suddenly looks weak...Remember what happened in England. So strong domestic cricket and paying more to test cricketers than IPL is what we require....

  • on January 20, 2012, 3:03 GMT

    harsha, you can propose a thousand changes in your articles. But, in the end, when you switch on your TV, you will hear N Srinivasan say on a news show - "Indian cricket needs no changes. The current Indian team is fantastic and can beat any team in the world anywhere." (This I just heard in "Walk The Talk" on NDTV.)

  • Cool_Jeeves on January 20, 2012, 2:59 GMT

    Good start. Hopefully the BCCI people read cricinfo.

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  • Cool_Jeeves on January 20, 2012, 2:59 GMT

    Good start. Hopefully the BCCI people read cricinfo.

  • on January 20, 2012, 3:03 GMT

    harsha, you can propose a thousand changes in your articles. But, in the end, when you switch on your TV, you will hear N Srinivasan say on a news show - "Indian cricket needs no changes. The current Indian team is fantastic and can beat any team in the world anywhere." (This I just heard in "Walk The Talk" on NDTV.)

  • vinayakshukre on January 20, 2012, 3:33 GMT

    Nice article Harsha... 3-4 bowlers were in competition for place in aussie team at the start of this series...... It happens because of their strong domestic cricket. If Zaheer khan is not available then there is nobody to pick his position and indian bowling attack suddenly looks weak...Remember what happened in England. So strong domestic cricket and paying more to test cricketers than IPL is what we require....

  • on January 20, 2012, 3:42 GMT

    I think 'density' of cricket should be one of the criterion for the reorganisation. There is too much of cricket in Mumbai as against the total of rest of Maharashtra. In such a case, the talent from the rest of the state would be wasted. So 3 teams from Maharashtra are ok. But Gujrat can be brought together. Uttar Pradesh though larger than Maharashtra, does not have as much 'density'. so it could be one state. Besides the cricket, there would be organisational issues too, for example Maharashtra CA is offering additional services to its members in their brand new stadium. Merger may not be liked by its members! I feel you should add the North east region as one unit too. Currently only Tripura plays as a unit. Mr. Bhogale should also concentrate on the split of the elite group into 7 and 8 teams, instead of having 16 ! Attention must also be paid to the grievanaces of lesser players as one of them said ,"Even if i score 100 in a sheershaasan, I will not be selected in Indian team"

  • on January 20, 2012, 3:51 GMT

    Great IDEA! I hope BCCI will agree with your plan.

  • teju666 on January 20, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    Harsha, you asking the BCCI to do all this? Really? A bunch of politically motivated, money minded business men will not bring about the changes your propose. And you have given the answer. It was and will always be about profit-loss. Name our contentious issues and money comes to the fore - DRS, IPL, calendar of the national team. Those who love the game and want it to grow are not good administrators while those who are have learnt the love of the coin over that of the ball. Good, radical ideas. Too bad they will be lost in some dusty archives in the din of Indian cricket

  • alamgirmani on January 20, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    Let there be 2 divisions, as it is now. The Elite and Plate divisions. ten teams in each divisions. Each team play each other in a set of round robin fixtures, home and away. There's nothing new in this format, all tried and tested ones. win gives you 3 points, draw 1. the team at the top of the table wins the trophy, the bottom 2 are relegated to the Plate division, while the winner and runners-up in Plate are promoted to the top. if the teams are tied on points, then the number of wins decides the championship, if that equal too, there are other obvious parameters like, run-rate et al. but the point is, now teams play for win. the top teams cant no longer afford to draw, the teams caught up in relegation fight can't afford to lose and even worse can't afford to draw!! Same story for the Plate division too. much to the chagrin all Indians who love cricket and Drama.

  • Mastmale on January 20, 2012, 4:02 GMT

    An idealistic suggestion that will never happen Harsha. Too many people will lose money, jobs and power if this happens. Instead, why not make the Elite League more competitive? Do away with points for the 1st innings lead and play for a result. Convert all games in the Elite League to 5-day games and give points only for victories. This will automatically produce competitive players.

  • m_ilind on January 20, 2012, 4:07 GMT

    The only problem is, players in India come about as individuals, not as teams, so combining teams from several associations will certainly reduce the burden of domestic competitions, but also give less opportunity for hidden talent to emerge, particularly from not so well known places in the country. I feel the selectors have a job to do, when it comes to hunting local talent in the country. By checking out the same names and faces, the selectors are doing a great disservice to Indian cricket.

  • on January 20, 2012, 4:09 GMT

    I .fully agree with Mr. Bhogle. Further, frequency of 20-20- cricket fixtures must be shortened.IPL with less number of matches will be a good idea to get our cricketers groove back to test match temperament which is the ultimate competition in cricket .Champions League should be stopped immediately.The cricket lovers also should avoid going for 20-20 matches.Further our pitches must be revamped to get our bowlers to get some lift,movement thereby our batsmen will also benefit under foreign conditions.But all these opinions will be facing deaf ears thereby no results can be anticipated.