HEADLINES:
June 18 2019
Plate group diluted Ranji Troph
09 February 2019

Providing opportunities to new teams should not be at the expense of quality

Four groups, 37 teams and 160 matches.

The 85th edition of the Ranji Trophy, in which Vidarbha proved that its maiden title in 2017-18 was far from being a fluke by defending the title against a spirited Saurashtra, was certainly the biggest in terms of numbers. But in terms of quality, it was far from being the best so far!

As much as the top teams were affected due to the the unavailability of its key players due to the tournament’s clash with India-A’s tour of New Zealand and the Emerging Asia Cup, the introduction of nine teams in an additional pool made it worse.

Thanks to a diktat by the Committee of Administrators (CoA), the BCCI had to include nine additional teams — six from north-east, besides Bihar, Uttarakhand and Puducherry.

With little local cricket culture in a majority of the new teams, especially in the north-east, the professionals made a mockery of numbers as well as the stature of First Class cricket.

Most of the Plate Group matches barely lasted two days, with many sides barely good enough with the basics of the game.

 

Plate group diluted Ranji Trophy
 

As a result, the professionals — either veterans who wanted to prolong their careers or even youngsters in big States who have either failed to make the cut into the their senior team or haven’t established themselves — minted runs and wickets without any trouble. No wonder then that five of the top-10 batsmen and bowlers came from the Plate Group.

The BCCI ought to reconsider whether to persist with Plate Group as part of the Ranji Trophy.

No doubt, new regions should get opportunities, but certainly not at the cost of diluting the premier First Class tournament.

 

Alternative

Perhaps, the BCCI should look at letting the newbies compete against themselves in a three-day tournament — without minimum professionals — to get themselves ready for the rigours of big-ticket cricket.

As a fall-out of the CoA’s insistence on the Plate Group winner being a must in the knockouts, the top-18 teams — divided in two groups — competed together for the top five slots for the quarterfinals. As a result, four from Group A made the cut while only Kerala from Group B qualified for the knockouts.

The umpiring standard remained as dicey as in the recent past. Save for Karnataka, the other semifinalists were not the traditionally dominant teams.

It augurs well for the future of the game, with many promising youngsters — in terms of age and experience — impressing with their game.

 

 

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