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T20 is the best format to introduce new teams to the big boys: Saba Karim

While domestic powerhouse Mumbai play Sikkim on the opening day of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Delhi take on Manipur on the second day. There seems to be little method to the madness as the big boys could actually demolish the confidence of the new kids on the block, but BCCI GM (Cricket Operations) Saba Karim begs to differ.

cricket Updated: Aug 31, 2018 19:05 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
bcci,saba karim,domestic cricket
BCCI GM Cricket Operations Saba Karim (third from left) is upbeat about the chances of the new teams introduced into the domestic structure this season.(Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has introduced nine new teams in the 2018-19 domestic season. Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim and Uttarakhand have been inducted keeping in mind the order of the Supreme Court and they will be a part of the plate group of the Ranji Trophy. But their first tryst with the big boys will come in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20.

While domestic powerhouse Mumbai will play Sikkim on the opening day of the T20 league — February 21 — 2017-18 Ranji runners-up Delhi take on Manipur on February 22. There seems to be little method to the madness as the big boys could actually demolish the new kids on the block, but BCCI GM (Cricket Operations) Saba Karim begs to differ.

“We thought it out and believe that T20 is the best format to introduce them to the big league. Any team can cause an upset in T20 cricket and that is why the new teams have been pitted against the big boys in this format. If you see, the Ranji Trophy format has the plate division for this very reason,” he explained.

The likes of Karim have strongly backed the introduction of the new teams into the system and he reiterated on Friday that the big teams should take the likes of Bihar, Puducherry and Uttarakhand lightly at their own peril.

“Some of the new teams like Bihar, Uttarakhand and Puducherry have been preparing very well and I am hopeful that they will do well. They shouldn’t be taken lightly. The North Eastern states also have some very fit boys. Yes, the skill part is being developed but you need to start somewhere. We need to give them chance expecting that they will become competitive,” he explained.

Karim went on to add that the BCCI is providing the new teams support by providing them not just on the ground, but also at the backend. While the backend staff have been given a year’s contract, the coaches and physios have been handed a contract of a season.

“Each new state is being provided four administrative staff comprising one to take care of finances, one for cricket operations and two for logistics. Along with this, four groundstaff — including one head curator, one maintenance manager and two assistant curators (BCCI accreditated) — will be provided.

“The states have been provided with six coaches, six physios and six trainers for their age-group teams as well as women’s team. It’s a one season tripartite agreement between the individual, state association and BCCI,” he revealed.

Asked about the team behind these appointments, Karim said: “It has been done by the cricket operations team that has around 10-12 people including me.”

In a first, the board will have its umpires evaluating the performances of the match referees. He also said that every step has been taken to ensure that the best candidates are picked to officiate in the domestic games. “We have addressed the issue of paucity of match referees, umpires and scorers. We want the best to officiate in the domestic games. We will have 12 new match referees and 14 new umpires this season to meet with the growing demand. This time the evaluation process will change. The umpires will evaluate match referees and the process will be monitored by cricket operations team,” Karim explained.

With the new teams coming in, there have also been cases of some players looking to get into these teams as guest players by bribing the associations, but Karim said that all steps were being taken by the BCCI to ensure that there is no corrupt practice in place.

“The Anti-Corruption Unit is keeping a look on these things and the associations have also been warned that any dubious activity will not be tolerated,” he said.

Among the North Eastern states, Arunachal Pradesh will have their home base in Assam’s Goalpara, Salmara and Mangaldoi (for all their teams). Mizoram will be playing their home matches at Jorhat and Dibrugarh in Assam, while Sikkim will have two home grounds in Bhuvneshwar (KIIT and Vikas School). Manipur’s second home will be Surat while they have one proper ground in Imphal.

Following is the list of coaches confirmed for the new states:

Meghalaya: Senior Men: Sanath Kumar; U-23: Dhiraj Jadhav

Bihar: Senior Men: Subroto Banerjee; U-23: Ajay Ratra

Nagaland: Senior Men: Kanwaljeet Singh

Sikkim: Senior Men: Sanjeev Sharma U-23: PV Shashikanth

Uttarakhand: Senior Men: KP Bhaskar

Arunachal Pradesh: Gursharan Singh

Mizoram: Senior Men: Ashok Malhotra; U-23: Shib Shankar Paul

Puducherry: Senior Men: Aavishkar Salvi.

First Published: Aug 31, 2018 18:53 IST