Victory in the inaugural T20 World Cup and the grand success of IPL I have turned the country’s cricket board from reluctant takers of the new form of the game to its most protecting guardians. But the BCCI has failed to hold its national T20 championship for two successive years. It isn’t encouraging its affiliated units to organise T20 meets either.
Of the 27 playing units divided into Elite and Plate Divisions of Ranji Trophy, 15 don’t have T20 tournaments for players who take part in first-class cricket. The 12 that do include Maharashtra, who will have it for the first time from May 4. The rest have matches with duration of one to three days and whatever T20 they play is due to corporate or individual initiatives.
Concentration of these T20 tournaments is the poorest in South and Central zone, where just one unit from each organise them (see box). Notable among the units without T20 are Delhi, BCCI president Shashank Manohar’s home Vidarbha and Tamil Nadu, which is represented in the BCCI by its secretary N. Srinivasan.
Most states yet to start their own T20 events say they will and soon. Some, like Gujarat, cite reasons for not having it.
“We had an inter-district T20 league lined up in March, just before the scheduled start of national T20 and cancelled it when the BCCI called it off. We want to hold it at a time when we select the state T20 side. Why have one when we don’t have to pick the state T20 side,” said an official of the Gujarat Cricket Association.
But going by the response T20 has received in India, this might change soon, even if the BCCI doesn’t make it mandatory for states to have such tournaments.
The format has the potential of charting its own course, like it has in Maharashtra.
The Maharashtra Cricket Association has embraced an IPL model and the eight teams floated for Rs 5 lakh each were sold in eight hours, according to its president Ajay Shirke.
“The revenue model is obviously not like the IPL. But we want to create a tournament, involve the districts and make it sufficiently popular before shifting it to our new stadium with a capacity of 50,000, which will be complete in 2011. The revenue will be significant even if we charge 100 bucks for each ticket,” Shirke said.
Maybe that’s the way others will go too, but as of now Maharashtra is among the minority. T20 in India is still a spectacle, which is not next door, unless you live in one of the eight IPL cities.