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Playing Ranji thinking IPL in wicked wicket world

cricket Updated: Jan 19, 2012 02:22 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Defending-champions-Rajasthan-have-made-it-to-the-Ranji-final-for-the-second-year-running-file-photo

Two days before the most important match in the annual domestic cricket calendar was to begin, the sport's national governing body invited secretaries and curators of selected 12 state associations for a meeting, incidentally in the same city as the Ranji Trophy final.

But the meeting had nothing to do with the premier domestic tournament. The BCCI's had assembled these officials to discuss and issue instructions about the quality of wickets they would want for the fifth edition of the IPL from April 4.

The representatives of BCCI's affiliated units which are going to stage the IPL games were all in attendance. The IPL bigwigs and the head of BCCI's curators' committee, Venkat Sundaram, stressed on the need for standardised (read batsman-friendly) wickets for the cash-rich T20 league.

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With financial stakes higher in IPL than all other domestic tournaments, it is understandable that the BCCI is trying to avoid a repeat of last year when IPL saw a sizeable number of low-scoring affairs.

However, shouldn't the BCCI be more - at least equally - concerned about making sure that Ranji Trophy sees sporting wickets across all venues?

Most of the Ranji wickets are either underprepared or flat decks. India's recent batting performance abroad has been a testimony.

However, is the parent body really bothered by the humiliation? Forget about addressing the issue of ensuring sporting tracks in domestic cricket, the Board's initiative of organising a captains' and coaches' conclave at the end of every Ranji season, has not been held for a good three years now. "I appreciate the move for IPL but the need of the hour is to pay more attention to the Ranji Trophy, especially after we have seen the India's performance in England and Australia," a state association representative who attended meeting said.

All that the BCCI notionally does in order to avoid rigging of wickets in Ranji is to send the zonal representative of its pitch and curators' committee to oversee preparation of all the knockout games pitches. But with most of them reaching the venues just two days prior to the game, it is too late to change the wicket's behaviour.

Yet, former international Amay Khurasia sees a positive. "I think things are on the right track. By overseeing preparation of pitches for the knockout games, they have made a start and I just hope it will trickle down to all the domestic games."