[I had blogged this in my other blog, but I decided to re-post it here today].
In recent times, I have heard many people suggesting that the Indian Domestic Competition needs an overhaul.
A good first-step was taken a few years ago, thanks to a movement led by Sunil Gavaskar. The traditional zonal-manner in which the Ranji Trophy tournament was organised up until then was scrapped (the zonal format has been persisted with for the one-day championship, by the way!). After Sunil Gavaskar’s intervention, we saw the Ranji league divided into two leagues:
* the Super League consisting of 15 teams in two divisions of 8 and 7 each, and
* the Plate League consisting of 13 teams in two divisions of 7 and 6 each.
It is not clear why the Super League has two divisions of 8 and 7 each. It is also not clear why the Plate league has two imbalanced divisions of 7 and 6 each. Some things are best left without much questioning, I guess!
This was a good first step.
However, I do not believe that this format will throw up top-notch cricketers of the future. Indian cricket continues to be vibrant and strong at the grass-roots level. The maidan, area, sub-district and district level league competitions are strong and vibrant. Talent is nurtured at these levels. The poor facilities (dust bowl grounds and sorry pitches) do not encourage physical flexibility/agility and good fielding habits. But this is all changing — slowly, but perceptibly.
Where India loses out is at the elite level.
If we see the Australian scene there are a few teams that slug it out in a near-International-standard cricket competition. The main reason is that the Ranji leagues have too many teams. The better players emerge from a competition with only a few teams that slug it out. The best players need to play against each other. This is why the Australian league is one of the strongest.
So, here is a suggestion on a revamp of the system:
While I can understand the need for teams like Orissa, Assam and Bihar to participate in the national competition, we need to assemble a competition with fewer and better teams to slug it out. A smaller and stronger competition will unearth the best players.
After the Ranji competition is completed, why not create two Super-Six Divisions?
The First Super-Six Division will consist of the top-6 teams from the Super-League — three from each Division. We could get them to play a home-away Ranji-Super-Six-Championship-League.
The Second Super-Six Division will decide who gets relegated to the Plate Division. The bottom 4 teams from the Super-League and the top 2 teams from the Plate Division can play in the Second Super-Six Division. We could get them to slug it out in a home-away league to decide who gets relegated (2 bottom teams) and who stays in the Super league (top 4).
A change is required to unravel the best players in Indian domestic cricket. This is but one suggestion…