The BCCI’s decision to introduce Twenty20 cricket in India isn’t a bad idea -- as long as it doesn’t dilute the longer versions of the game. Till now, the BCCI had refused to subscribe to Twenty20, terming it as ‘gulli cricket’. But at the latest ICC meeting, member nations reportedly shot down the BCCI’s reservations by an overwhelming 10-1 vote, and endorsed the proposal to hold a regular Twenty20 World Cup competition from next year. With even Sri Lanka and Pakistan -- who were earlier sceptical of adding to their packed cricket schedules -- voting for Twenty20, the BCCI was apparently left with a Hobson’s choice.
While the larger issue of redefining instant cricket remains debatable, there can be little doubt that this will give India’s domestic circuit a much-needed shot in the arm. State associations that usually miss out on international games for long periods can now look forward to staging Twenty20 tourneys. The money they collect from these matches could be used for developing the game. The BCCI itself will admit that a Twenty20 World Cup is well worth the effort, as it could bring in a tidy sum by way of selling production and broadcast rights for the championship. Maximising revenue and generating public interest in the domestic competition apart, this will also give promising players a chance to be picked for the national side. Another bonus is that this will rob ‘superstars’ of an excuse not to play with their lesser brethren in low-profile matches. Too much of international cricket has affected India’s domestic circuit and the gap between domestic and international tournaments has never been wider. The Ranji tourneys have a new format that packs in more games at the expense of providing better player facilities and attracting media attention.
Even in the Duleep Trophy, where respective zones used to clash, the BCCI has scrapped zonal leagues to dilute the zonal quota system for national selection. An abridged (more exciting) version of the game should correct this and augment the domestic circuit whose relevance lies in its potential to scout for talent.