CHENNAI: After IPL, it’s domestic cricket. Format, dates and venues will be finalised at the BCCI’s annual general meeting (AGM) next month. But following informal discussions before the IPL final in Dubai between state association representatives and board officials, it seems an extended season is on the cards. On the senior men’s side, there are plans for Ranji Trophy and T20s.
The BCCI has already announced intentions of starting Ranji Trophy in January. Keeping in mind bio-bubble and other safety precautions, matches will be held in select states, which have multiple grounds. Until last season, there were three groups in Elite and one in Plate. It went on for a little over three months. There are plans to have more groups this season so that the duration becomes shorter.
If it gets over by early March, there will be time for Mushtaq Ali Trophy before IPL 2021, which is slated to begin in April. There are also talks to have under-23 and other age-group tournaments during IPL. Usually when IPL is conducted, competitions in these sections are over. But nothing has been held this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
So April-May is a window that can be used. Situation permitting, BCCI may even be willing to extend the season by a couple of months to accommodate as many tournaments as possible. Normally, the season ends with the IPL. These possibilities were discussed in Dubai, where representatives of all state associations were invited for the IPL final. A gathering over lunch with BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah was planned. Although that was cancelled, there was time for informal talks. The BCCI wants to listen to suggestions from the state associations and if need be, there might be an informal meeting before the AGM.
Format of the Ranji Trophy will be a key point of discussions. There are suggestions from certain state units to have a regional group phase, wherein teams from five zones play a round-robin league before knockouts. It’s not clear what happens to Northeast teams in this format. The other idea is six teams in each group irrespective of region. These are possibilities at this stage. Clearer picture will emerge only after the meetings.
In the women’s section, the 50-over competition may be conducted from next January. There is no information on when and how T20s and age-group tournaments will be held.
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