Vidarbha clinched the Ranji Trophy title for the first time in the 2017-18 season as they defeated Delhi in Indore.(PTI)
Vidarbha clinched the Ranji Trophy title for the first time in the 2017-18 season as they defeated Delhi in Indore.(PTI)

India’s 2018-19 domestic cricket season to begin with Vijay Hazare Trophy, extra Ranji round

India’s domestic cricket season in 2018-19 will begin with the Vijay Hazare Trophy and will also include one extra round of the Ranji Trophy.
By Press Trust of India | PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON APR 16, 2018 09:13 PM IST

The BCCI technical committee proposed a slew of recommendations including starting the 2018-19 domestic season with the national one- day championship for the Vijay Hazare Trophy and incorporating an extra round of matches in the Ranji Trophy.

During a two-and-a-half-hour meeting in Kolkata, there was elaborate discussions on whether the Ranji Trophy could be played with kookaburra balls instead of the currently used SG Test.

One of the key suggestions placed was the introduction of Round of 16 (pre-quarter-final) matches in Ranji Trophy.

“After the Captain-Coaches’ Conclave in Mumbai, most of the state team skippers wanted a per-quarterfinal to be added. Now we have four groups with two teams qualifying for the quarterfinal.

“Captains feel that knockouts should start from the pre-quarters itself, so technical committee wants a round of 16 to be included. It would mean eight extra matches and also one extra match for 16 teams,” a member of the technical committee told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

With the drought-hit western India facing perennial water scarcity and monsoon continuing in the eastern states till October, it was decided that the Vijay Hazare Trophy should be the season-opening tournament. Starting Ranji Trophy in October affects a lot of four-day matches which don’t yield any result.

“The calender could be tweaked. It will now start with Hazare Trophy followed by Ranji Trophy group league stage. We will then have the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (National T20) as it would help all the IPL teams to scout for talented players. Once that gets over, the knockout stages of the Ranji Trophy will commence with the pre-quarterfinals.”

“Technical committee chairman Sourav Ganguly wants that we now prepare such a calender that at least we don’t need to tweak it for some time. There should be consistency.”

During a press conference, BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Chaudhary told mediapersons that while there are suggestions about using red kookaburra balls in the Ranji Trophy they want to continue using the Indian made SG Test balls.

“There is a recommendation that SG Test be used for age-group cricket while we use kookaburra for senior level cricket. But we need to keep in mind that whether kookaburra will be able to supply the huge quantity of red balls that we would be requiring. That’s why a final call has not been taken,” said the official.

Chaudhary indicated that the Duleep Trophy will be once again played with the pink ball in day/night format and the BCCI’s experience of introducing cricket to “new venues” has been “pleasant on most occasions”.

There were discussions about women’s cricket also and the committee was of the opinion that for popularising the game and tapping new talents, BCCI should concentrate on having limited overs matches.

“Since the Indian women’s team is playing ODIs and T20s at the national level, these are the two formats that we should concentrate. There is no point in playing the longer format as the women’s team is not playing Test matches anymore.

“It will only help if we can prepare a good pool of white ball players,” the official said.

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