Should the annual Irani Cup, pitting the Ranji Trophy champions and a Rest of India side, take place at the start of the Indian domestic season or at the end of it, as had been the case for the past five seasons? Chandrakant Pandit, coach of Vidarbha - winners of both the tournaments in 2017-18 and 2018-19 - is firm that it should be at the beginning, a curtain-raiser to the season.
"The Ranji Trophy is a long-drawn tournament, which takes more than four months and the winning team has to play at least ten to 11 matches," Pandit said on Sunday. "The players will be tired after a long season and they will be carrying injuries. It is difficult for them to recover and start all over again and give their 100% for the Irani Cup a few days after the Ranji final.
"Personally, I feel the Irani Cup should be held at the beginning of the season."
Earlier, from it's inception in 1965-66 to 2012-13, the Irani Cup served to remind everyone of the star performers for the previous season. It also gave the Rest of India side - a selection of players without being much of a team - a good shot at winning the game. As an example, in the 15 seasons leading up to the schedule change, Rest of India lost just twice. Since then, they have won just twice.
Pandit's argument is along the lines of what former India batsman and ex-selector Dilip Vengsarkar recently told Mid-Day. "What's the point in playing the Irani Cup when the Ranji Trophy is just over? Irani Cup and Duleep Trophy should be the curtain-raiser for the season as they are the most important tournaments where players would like to display their form and fitness to stake a claim in the Indian squad for the season ahead," Vengsarkar had said.
"How does it help to schedule the Irani game just after the Ranji Trophy? It makes no sense to me and it defeats the very purpose. BCCI's approach to get done with tournaments is questionable."
There have been no signs of a move away from the current schedule on the part of the BCCI, however, with Saba Karim, the general manager of cricket operations, saying recently that he hasn't heard any complaints about the current arrangement.
"The season-opener is the Duleep Trophy. I've not received any feedback of the players being drained out for this fixture. Obviously the team that wins the tournament (Ranji Trophy) will play the most number of games," he said. "If any such issue is there, it will be discussed in the captains and coaches conclave."