Ranji a great stage despite drawbacks

The extreme opinion on Ranji Trophy says the national championship is a colossal waste, that the 27-team four-month tournament absorbs resources but delivers mediocrity.

The evidence to support this damning indictment is that Ranji's most successful stars over the years have flunked the test at the international level.

The moderate opinion detects some merit. Ranji, so runs the argument, is perfectly suited to our country and its format affords a tremendous platform to about 600 first-class cricketers to perform and compete.

It is the ladder each player has to climb to move up and the sheer grind of playing four-day games in different conditions and venues, ranging from the decent to deplorable, is great learning. 

While the jury on Ranji is divided, there is consensus that some issues need to be addressed urgently. Everyone agrees the quality must be raised and matches should be more competitive to enable emerging talent to rise to the next level. This, currently, is not the case.

To an extent, splitting teams into Elite/Plate Divisions was to remedy this but the changed format created a new problem of comparing performances across the two groups.

More than the structure, the problem with Ranji is it does not get attention. Established players, busy with international commitments, are rarely available; playing conditions, especially at obscure venues, are pathetic; tracks are often dodgy and the umpiring is usually of the hit-and- miss variety. 

Recent advances suggest thought is going into transforming Ranji.

Player salaries have jumped substantially to Rs 40,000 a day and the BCCI appoints match referees for every game.

Despite its obvious limitations, Ranji is a wonderful stage that brings together teams from across India and pits youth against experience.


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