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Ranji Trophy not yet ruled out, Ganguly keen

Board to seek views of states during SMA on conducting further domestic tournaments

Nagraj Gollapudi
The BCCI is set to explore all options to stage the Ranji Trophy  •  BCCI

The BCCI is set to explore all options to stage the Ranji Trophy  •  BCCI

In a positive development for India's domestic cricket, the BCCI has not yet given up on hosting the Ranji Trophy despite the Covid-19 pandemic severely affecting the calendar. Recently the BCCI announced it would be conducting the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (domestic T20s) from January 10 to 31 in bio-secure bubbles across India. It would then seek views of the states after the league phase of the SMA Trophy on conducting further domestic tournaments.
It is understood board president Sourav Ganguly himself voiced strong support for conducting the Ranji Trophy, the premier domestic tournament, at the BCCI's AGM in Ahmedabad on Thursday. Ganguly told the members that the BCCI and the states must explore all options to host the Ranji Trophy. It is expected the BCCI would follow the SMA Trophy with the Vijay Hazare Trophy (domestic 50-over tournament) and the Ranji Trophy, if possible.
The BCCI also has plans to conduct age-group and women's cricket during the IPL which his scheduled for April-May next year. As a shot in the arm for domestic players - both men and women - the BCCI decided to compensate players for the loss of cricket during the pandemic. What that compensation would be, will be worked out once the BCCI has finalised the domestic calendar.
The BCCI has also decided to increase the retirement age for domestic match officials and scorers from 55 to 60. Meanwhile, the medical insurance for players in domestic cricket has been raised from INR 5 lakh to INR 10 lakh.
Setback for BCCI's cricket operations
The BCCI's cricket operations team has thinned down further after the board "terminated" the contract of KVP Rao, assistant manager, cricket operations. Rao, a former Bihar bowler, is the second senior official the BCCI has lost from its cricket operations team this year. Former India wicketkeeper Saba Karim had told the board he would leave his post of general manager, cricket operations, in January after he had officially resigned in July.
Rao informed the state associations about his departure on Thursday, about an hour before the BCCI's AGM started in Ahmedabad.
Rao's sacking comes only two weeks prior to the start of the Indian domestic season with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, from January 10. Rao, one of the senior-most BCCI officials, was the backbone of domestic cricket operations - right from planning the calendar, venues and the format to the execution.
Rao, who took 212 first-class wickets, was with the BCCI for nearly a decade. He was the tournament operations manager for two global tournaments in India: the 2013 Women's World Cup and the 2016 Men's T20 World Cup. He was also one of the planners for the exhaustive domestic calendar across all formats and age-groups in 2018-19 for both men and women involving more than 2000 matches.
That the separation was not amicable was made clear by Rao in his email to the state associations. In the email, Rao said the BCCI had decided to "terminate" his contract on December 22 which he called "the best day of my life as this termination will provide me ample opportunities to further my profession skills elsewhere."

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo