CHENNAI: Lukewarm to the Lodha commission’s suggestion to include more cricketers in administration, BCCI members have mixed reactions to a cricketer-turned-administrator’s proposal to better domestic cricket. Headed by Cricket Association of Bengal president Sourav Ganguly, the board’s technical committee on Sunday recommended that all Ranji Trophy matches be held at neutral venues, to prevent teams from doctoring pitches. Implementing this is subject to the working committee’s approval.
A majority of BCCI working committee members Express spoke to welcomed the suggestions, with ideas to make them better, while some argued against it. The working committee is the board’s highest decision-making body, and a date for its next meeting is yet to be announced.
“It’s a good idea because teams rolling out under-prepared pitches to suit own requirements was becoming a concern. But we must make sure teams don’t travel extensively to play in neutral venues. I suggest that a team doesn’t play in more than two-three places,” said a South Zone working committee member. Two unit heads from East and Central Zone said they don’t have reservations.
The technical committee has proposed that around 15 venues be shortlisted, to host all matches. In the existing system, teams play four matches at home and four away in the group stage. Knockout matches are held in neutral venues. It’s not clear how much travel the proposed system will entail.
Members against the plan felt neutral pitch curators would have been better than neutral venues. They also said this will discourage spectators, of which there aren’t many for domestic games. Some were apprehensive this would lead to logistical complications.
“Associations spend substantially to maintain stadiums. It’s unfair on most of them if their teams don’t play at home because a handful of teams are doctoring pitches. Ensuring presence of BCCI curators at all grounds to oversee preparations would have been a better idea. Also, this will diminish whatever local connect we have,” said a working committee member from North Zone.
Expressing similar concern, another member from South felt neutral venues may not guarantee quality pitches. “What if the neutral venue has a green wicket? Will that be ensuring fair contest between bat and ball? Implementing BCCI guidelines at all venues would have been better than doing away with home games. But if members feel this is the way forward, let’s have it on a trial basis and see the pros and cons.”