It’s ridiculous that the richest sports organisation in the country doesn’t have the foresight to plan better for India’s premier tournament—the Ranji Trophy. Around 600 players, some 300 match officials and of course, 100-odd scorers and other people associated with the red-ball domestic tournament are set to take a big hit this season too. Financially, it would be devastating after last season was scrapped due to Covid. Some of the match officials’ sole earning is through officiating the games. Last season, after compensating only the players, the BCCI didn’t roll out any packages for officials. Without the long format involving 38 teams, the officials—umpires, scorers, match referees—struggle to eke out a living.
What seems even more baffling is that the BCCI finds enough time to host all other tournaments and certain T20 events twice a year but miraculously cannot conduct the Ranji Trophy. Consider this: hosting part of the Indian Premier League during the peak second wave in India and one-and-a-half IPLs successfully abroad, organising one-day and T20 domestic tournaments in bio-bubbles, and of course conducting two Test series in India too. However, not finding a window for the Ranji Trophy is outrageous. This season, they could have planned meticulously after missing out on last year.
After the advent of T20, the romance for the classical long version is in decline. Motivating players to concentrate on this format where technique and skill matter more than just hitting around the park too has been challenging for coaches and state associations because of the lucrative contracts offered by T20. Under the circumstances, promoting Ranji Trophy is fundamental to the game’s progress and survival.
Some of the state units have shown a willingness towards hosting the event if the need arises. With the IPL to start by the end of March or early April, the BCCI needs at least 35 days to complete part of the competition and conduct the other half later in the year. The board’s reluctance only shows its negligence towards the red-ball premier event because of lack of commercial obligations and monetary benefits. It’s time the BCCI gets its priorities right.