But I believe the proposals, while along the right lines (in terms of rationale and objectives) is a bit flawed.
The technical committee of the BCCI, chaired by Sunil Gavaskar, considered the current Ranji format. Currently we have 27 teams in the competition with 15 in the Elite Division and 12 in the Plate Division. The suggestion on the table is to split this into three groups (Group A, Group B and Group C). I am sure they will come up with some catchy names for these groupings — such as Plate, Cup and Saucer! However, each group will consist of 9 teams that will play each other once only — and that is problem number 1 with this proposal. The top-two from each group will qualify for the next round — and here is problem number 2. The six qualifiers will split into two groups of three each and play a round robin league. The top-two from each group will make the semi-finals with the winners playing in the finals.
Firstly, I think nine teams playing a league is about 3 too many. The strength of the Australian Pura Cup competition is that 6 strong teams play each other home-and-away. This is a tough competition in which the nations’ best play off against each other to produce stronger players. I think they should have collapsed 3 of the teams and streamlined the competition into having 4 leagues of 6 teams each.
Second, and more importantly, I don’t get the point of having the top two teams from each league play off in a round-robin tournament before which the semi-finals and finals would be decided. For example, what’s the point of having Mumbai, Bengal, Saurashtra, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Orissa play off? You’d want Mumbai, Bengal, Karnataka, Baroda, Delhi and Punjab (say) play off in the top six.
A better re-structure of the same plan would be:
– Have three groups of 9 teams each: Group A, Group B and Group C.
– Play the league phase where each team plays the other once in each Group.
– Create 3 Super-Groups, Super Group A, B and C of 4 teams each.
– Super Group A consists of the top 4 teams of Group A
– Super Group B constsis of the bottom 2 teams of Group A and the top 2 teams from B.
– Super Group C constsis of the bottom 2 teams of Group B and the top 2 teams from C.
– Each of the teams in Super Groups A, B and C play each other home-and-away.
– The winner of Super Group A wins the Ranji Trophy.
– The top two teams from Super Group B advance to Group A for the next season.
– The remaining two teams get demoted to Group B.
– The top two teams from Super Group C advance to Group B for the next season.
– The remaining two teams get demoted to Group C.
This is a slightly better option than the one suggested. Of course, an alternative is to increase the size of the Super Groups to include 6 teams and not just 4.
Gavaskar’s suggested modification may work if the Groups A, B and C are seeded (and I am not sure if that is on the cards), but then there could be quite a scrap regarding the allocation of the seedings and the random allocation of teams to Groups.
A ladder-system (as in the English soccer league) is a much better alternative.
Having said this, it is certainly a step in the right direction.
The Duleep Trophy is also set to undergo an overhaul. And I think this is a good step. The regional basis for selection of teams is set to be thrown out. And that is a terrific move. Hopefully, with this, zone-based selectors will also go?
Anyway, from 2008, the Duleep Trophy will do away with zone-based teams. The trophy will feature 4 teams (instead of the current 6). Currently, the championship features 5 zonal teams and an overseas team. In 2006-07, Sri Lanka A made the Duleep Trophy Finals! In 2007-08, West Indies A will visit.
The three teams that will take part in the Duleep Trophy will be selected from amongst the best players in each Group — nine teams — of the Ranji Trophy games (Group A, B and C).
This is, in my view, a good move. The Deodhar Trophy will also be restructured along similar lines.