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The BCCI is to blame for Ranji Trophy’s fall from grace

The disdain for India’s premier domestic cricket tournament is unique to India

editorials Updated: Jan 02, 2018 23:50 IST
Hindustan Times
Ranji Trophy,Cricket,Vidarbha
Vidarbha players celebrate with their coach Chandrakant Pandit after winning the Ranji Trophy final cricket match against Delhi, January 1. (PTI)

The Ranji Trophy is meant to be India’s “premier” domestic tournament. But it’s a hollow sobriquet. That tag belongs to something else: to a collection of slam-bang Twenty20 matches called the Indian Premier League that has been accorded the status and privilege that come with being the centrepiece of the local cricket calendar. If more evidence of the Ranji Trophy’s fall from grace was needed, it was visible, in all its obscurity, at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore on the first morning of the New Year.

It was a significant day, one that will go down in the annals of history. Vidarbha, a region with cricketing pedigree – the land of India’s first captain CK Nayudu – but no real cricketing lore, was crowned domestic champion for the first time. The victory came against all odds; it highlighted dexterity and endurance; it displayed character. But it was reduced to a ripple in a pond – in front of an empty stadium, without any social media trends — for resilience, endurance and fortitude are not qualities that the modern Indian cricket fan is conditioned to celebrate. Instead, Vidarbha’s moment of glory seemed needless, almost pyrrhic. The Delhi team it faced did not feature talismanic captain Virat Kohli, swashbuckling opener Shikhar Dhawan and pace spearhead Ishant Sharma. Not because they were injured or indisposed; they were simply on tour with the Indian team to South Africa for a Test series starting later this week.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which clears its international calendar for the month-and-a-half-long IPL every year, did not bother to make such allowances for the Ranji Trophy final. It revealed the Board’s contempt for a tournament that doesn’t ring its cash registers any longer. This disdain is unique to India. The Sheffield Shield – the Ranji Trophy’s Australian equivalent – is never so blatantly shortchanged, and neither is the County Championship in England. It begs the question: Where does the BCCI think the next big Test cricketer will come from – a festival of sixes with short boundaries and unreasonable fielding restrictions, or a tournament that painstakingly laid the foundation on which Indian cricket built its reputation?

First Published: Jan 02, 2018 19:19 IST