Revamping the Ranji Trophy: Elite & Plate league could be history now

Elite & Plate league could be history in the Ranji Trophy, says a report in The Times Of India. “The sagging Ranji Trophy, India’s premier domestic tournament, has finally received a much-needed shot in the arm. Ten years after the BCCI’s technical committee, then headed by former India batsman Sunil Gavaskar, introduced the Elite and Plate Divisions to spruce up the tournament, ex-India captains Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble have done it again now, giving the format a new lease of life,” says the TOI report.

The Elite and Plate Groups have been scrapped and instead, Ganguly and Kumble - members of BCCI’s technical committee - have recommended that three tiers of nine teams each be formed. Kumble is a special invitee to this committee.

“The cricket fraternity has welcomed the recommendations. The primary reason is that with three tiers being formed to divide the existing 27 first class teams, each team - regardless of its ranking in the circuit - will get to play eight matches each every season. It will be a huge boost to the lesser competitive sides that have throughout the last ten years been rendered peripheral,” says the report.

“The changes will make the competition even and each team will play a few more matches. Teams will also be promoted and relegated according to their standings. But all these are recommendations. The BCCI working committee will take the final decision,” Ganguly said at the BCCI headquarters, according to a report in The Indian Express.

The defending Ranji Trophy champions, Rajasthan, will find a place in Group A, while runners-up Tamil Nadu will be part of Group B. The two teams which qualified last season from the Plate League — Hyderabad and Maharashtra — will also be included in either A or B. The remaining 13 Elite teams and the Plate team that finished with maximum points in the league stages — Vidarbha — will be divided randomly or at the discretion of the tours and fixtures committee, which will meet next month.

According to The Hindu report, the revision in the points system too has been recommended. “Six points for an outright win, innings victory or win by 10 wickets (one bonus); first innings lead, but no outright win (three); tie on both innings (three); first innings loss (one); tie on first innings without outright result (one); outright defeat (zero); first innings result not obtained with/ without weather interference (one point each),” says the report, adding that in domestic one-dayers, one bowler will be allowed to bowl maximum 12 overs; two bouncers permitted per over; no change in fielding restrictions outside 30-yard circle in non-powerplay overs.

According to the recommendation, the domestic competitions sequence should be as follow: Duleep Trophy will be followed by N.K.P. Salve Challenge, Ranji Trophy, Irani Cup, Vijay Hazare Trophy, Deodhar Trophy, Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy; Two Irani Cup games in 2012-13 season, Ranji Trophy 2011-12 champion Rajasthan vs. Rest of India in September after the Ranji 2013 final concludes, the new champion team to play Rest of India.