Tag Archives: Domestic Competition

Ranji Trophy 2007-08

Mahesh Krishnan sounded the bugle for the 74th Ranji Trophy 2007-08 season in his earlier post. I will be looking forward to the “Ranji Player Watch” series that Mahesh Krishnan has suggested. We will also try and provide round-by-round analysis here at the conclusion of each round.

The 74th ‘Ranji season’ kicks off Saturday 3 November 2007. Most matches will commence on 3 Nov, with two matches — Bengal V Hyderabad and Delhi V Rajasthan — commencing Sunday 4 Nov 2007. The Bengal V Hyderabad match was postponed by a day to allow Team India use of the Eden Gardens practice facilities. The Delhi V Rajasthan game starts a day late because Delhi will play Pakistan in a tour game starting today (2 Nov 2007). In all, 13 matches will be played in this round in the Plate League and Super League.

For a curtain-raiser on the Ranji Season, see the excellent 5-part “Eye on Ranji” series in CricInfo (Part-1, Part-2, Part-3, Part-4, Part-5).

This promises to be another cracker of a season and we will try and bring the news to you as it happens.

The Teams:

Super League:
Maharashtra, Orissa, Baroda, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Bengal, Hyderabad, Saurashtra, Mumbai, Punjab, Delhi

Plate League:
Assam, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Railways, Services, Tripura, Vidarbha

— Mohan

Letting out some steam…


What is with the term “rested”? This word must classify as the biggest  euphemism in Indian cricket. Why don’t the selectors say exactly what the intention was? Are they trying to not offend the seniors in the team by saying that they were rested and not dropped?? I am sure Dravid is pleased that he was actually rested and not dropped.

Team selection

Ok. I don’t even want to get started on this. It’s not that the team selection has been bad. It is the lack of planning and policy in picking the team.  No offence to Pravin Kumar and Sehwag (..and I want them to succeed badly) – but there were better choices out there based on current form.

Dropping Dravid from the team

I don’t have any problems with the selectors dropping Dravid from the ODI team. In fact, Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly should be “rested” (if I may use the word) from the ODI team so that they can prolong their career in Test cricket. And I am not alone in this (based on various other comments that we have received in this blog). What I am pissed off is the fact that they unceremoniously dumped Dravid without any long term plan or strategy. If they wanted him to get some match practice then why did they not pick him for the Challenger Trophy?

Challenger Trophy

This is supposed to be the tournament that pits the best cricketers in India against each other. Instead what do we have? All the big names are being “rested” and we are left with the second rung of cricketers fighting each other out. Now if I was a selector, I would certainly like to know how Ojha and the likes bowl to Tendulkar, Dravid or Dhoni. Or how Praveen Kumar faces up to Zaheer, Sreesanth or RP. But then, I am no selector…If I was one, I would have also waited till the finals of the trophy before I announced the team.

Picking a coach

Just look around. Every team that has been searching for a coach has found one. And India, the biggest cash cow as far as cricket is concerned can’t seem to find one. Sigh! Is it the incompetence of the people who are trying to hire? Or are there no real people out there willing to take on the challenge of coaching a team like India?

Test captaincy

The selectors want to watch Dhoni’s captaincy for a while longer before taking a decision on the Test captaincy. How long? For another 2 games! Huh?  I don’t know about you, but I just don’t get it. If you haven’t made up your decision by now, I don’t know how an additional two games is going to help you.


The India ODI team I’d like to see for the games against Pakistan

As I mentioned in an earlier post, keeping in mind the hectic schedule that is on the cards for Team India over the next 6 months and given the importance of the flagship series against Pakistan and Australia coming up, it would be best if the selectors rested Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid from ODI duties for the series against Pakistan. That is probably the best thing that can happen for Indian cricket right now provided the alternative is sensible — and this could be tested out somewhat in the Challenger Series that starts tomorrow (25th Oct 2007) at Ahmedabad.

By skipping the Pakistan ODIs that go from 5 November to 18 November, Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly would be fresh for the Tests against Pakistan that commence 22 Nov. Dravid, Ganguly and Tendulkar should turn out Karnataka, West Bengal and Mumbai (respectively). Mumbai plays Karnataka and Bengal plays Hyderabad in the first games of the Ranjis this year! They would be handy matches for the Big-3! In the second round that starts 15 November, although Karnataka has an easy outing against Himachal Pradesh, Bengal plays Baroda and Mumbai plays Tamil Nadu.

Provided the Big-3 get asked to play the Ranji games, following is the ODI team I’d like to see for Team India against Pakistan:

Virender Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir
Robin Uthappa
Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain)
Rohit Sharma / S. Badrinath / Suresh Raina / Manoj Tiwary / Mohammed Kaif [2 of these 5]
M. S. Dhoni
Praveen Kumar / Yusuf Pathan / Joginder Sharma [2 of these 3]
Irfan Pathan
Harbhajan Singh / Murali Kartik / Piyush Chawla [2 of these 3]
Zaheer Khan / R. P. Singh


— Mohan

Challenger Series…

The Challenger Series starts tomorrow (October 25 2007) in Ahmedabad. It will run for 4 days with the Final to be played on October 28th at the same venue.

It is a flagship ODI tournament for the N. K. P. Salve Cup and, coming on the heels of the Irani Trophy, signifies the curtain raiser for the domestic season. It has also been the platform for many an impressive showing. Suresh Raina and Piyush Chawla were already good young players when they played the Challengers in the last few years. But their performances in the Challengers shot them into the national conscience — and national team selection.

Siddhartha Vaidhyanathan talks of some strange exclusions and inclusions in this years’ episode in his Cricinfo piece.

Big-name players like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, R. P. Singh, Irfan Pathan, are not playing. And now, with Piyush Chawla having recovered, Murali Kartik has also been rested! Why? He has only played a handful of games in the last few weeks. Why should Kartik not play on in the Challengers? I just don’t get it. I’d have thought that more time in the middle merely serves to augment match-fitness and match-readiness, especially for a spinner!

I have already mentioned in an earlier post that I find it strange that R. P. Singh, Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan are not playing. Yes, the road ahead is littered with matches, but it is not likely that R. P. Singh and Sreesanth will play all of those games and Irfan Pathan is only now getting into a solid rhythm and momentum. In my view, they should have played this series. It is also strange, albeit understandable, that V. V. S. Laxman does not figure. Another strange exclusion is V. R. V. Singh.

As Siddhartha Vaidhyanathan says, the galling feature is the dominance of the West Zone players. Simultanesouly, the absence of players from Rajasthan (finalists in the Ranji ODI Championship last year) apart from Pankaj Singh and Karnataka (quarter-finalists in the Ranji ODI Championship) is quite galling. I’d have thought that at least Shailender Gehlot (Rajasthan) and Barrington Rowland (Karnataka) would have had a look in. This is particularly so in light of some strange inclusions, like Siddharth Trivedi. The case of Satyajit Sathbai’s inclusion makes good comic material even by BCCI standards! Initially, it seems Satyajit Parab’s name was announced. A day later, it was retracted and another Satyajit’s name was included — this time, the right one… Sathbai. But even his inclusion reads silly. I can’t see what Sathbai has done to warrant inclusion in the team! Tanmay Srivatsa, Pradeep Sangwan, M. Vijay, C. Raghu, B. Akhil and J. Arunkumar are others that can feel quite miffed at being left out.

And the name Yadav is apparently worth quite a bit in Indian cricket these days! Young lans will not be blamed for queueing up at magistrates courts across the land to change their surname to Yadav!!

With a growing expectation that the Big 3 will be rested for the Pakistan ODIs, the time is ripe for the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Mohammed Kaif, S. Badrinath, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, and Manoj Tiwary to make a strong statement or two.

It will also present an opportunity for Munaf Patel to redeem himself in the eyes of the selectors. Yo Mahesh should grab this opportunity too.

I expect Yusuf Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Joginder Sharma and Pankaj Singh to emerge strongly from this though. This is a wonderful opportunity for these players to make their cases and emerge to give confidence to the selectors that they can address team-balance with these sorts of players. Having said that, Pankaj Singh is less of a batsman than Pathan, Kumar or Sharma. A dark horse in the team-balance stakes with bits-and-pieces players could be Abhishek Nayar. He is a first-change media-fast bowler for Mumbai and is in terrific form for Mumbai (back-to-back centuries against Karachi Blues and RoI).

I know I have been talking up Praveen Kumar quite a bit over the last year or so. I really do expect this lad to be a part of India’s ODI plans for the future. A strong showing here may even propel him into the Pakistan ODI series. It is a chance that he has to grab with both hands.

India Red:
Mohammad Kaif (capt), Karan Goel, Gautam Gambhir, Subramaniam Badrinath, Virat Kohli, Ravneet Ricky, Praveen Kumar, Mahesh Rawat (wk), Pragyan Ojha, Siddharth Trivedi, Ishant Sharma, Pinal Shah, Shrikant Munde, Paresh Patel.
Coach: Lalchand Rajput

India Blue:
Virender Sehwag (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Suresh Raina, Niraj Patel, Arjun Yadav, Joginder Sharma, Ramesh Powar, Amit Mishra, Yo Mahesh, Ranadeb Bose, Swapnil Asnodkar, Rakesh Dhurv, Saurabh Bandekar
Coach: Venkatesh Prasad

India Green:
Parthiv Patel (capt/wk), Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Murali Kartik, Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Abhishek Nayar, Niranjan Behera, Iqbal Abdulla, Pankaj Singh, Munaf Patel, Gagandeep Singh, Srikkanth Anirudha, Satyajit Satbhai.
Coach: Praveen Amre

The series schedule is:
Oct 25: India Red v/s India Blue
Oct 26: India Green v/s India Red
Oct 27: India Green v/s India Blue
Oct 28: Final

— Mohan

RoI win Irani Trophy

Rest of India won the Irani Trophy season opener convincingly. In Mumbai’s first innings, Kukreja (110 off 210 balls) and Abhishek Nayar (118 off 108 balls) scored tons to get Mumbai to a decent total of 453 all out.

Abhishek Nayar is shaping up as a really useful allrounder to watch out for in the future. He bats left handed and is a right-arm fast medium bowler. In this match, Nayar bowled more overs than any other Mumbai bowler. Not that this fact alone counted for much in the end, but it talks of the confidence that the team has in this 24-year-old!

After a shaky start in response to this large total, RoI responded soundly, with Parthiv Patel (179 off 235) and Manoj Tiwary (130 off 184) scoring brisk centuries. Parthiv Patel opened the innings with Akash Chopra and has been in stunning form with the bat! In the end, RoI had a slender 1st innings lead. Badrinath had made 29.

It was around this time that news may have leaked of Badrinath’s impending selection in the India team. He may have hoped for the Irani Trophy match to get over soon so that he could pack up is kit and join Team India! But even Badrinath, — who commented, “I can’t leave till this match gets over. I hope we win it tomorrow.” — would not have expected the swiftness of the RoI victory!

In the second innings, Mumbai folded for 106 off 33.3 overs in a mere 166 minutes! RoI had to make 90 to win, which they did for the loss of only 1 wicket! Parthiv Patel smashed a 48-ball 59 to continue his dream run with the bat.

There were several positives and some questions asked from this match:

  • Parthiv Patel will continue to put pressure on Dinesh Karthik for a place in the team, especially since Patel is opening too!
  • For Manoj Tiwary, this century represents a timely reminder to the selectors that he can’t be forgotten.
  • Mohammed Kaif continues to be the most successful representative captain who probably didn’t play much for his country!
  • Ramesh Powar didn’t make any impression on anyone!
  • Ajit Agarkar continued to bowl like a millionaire that he is not.
  • Young Iqbal Abdullah continues to impress and so does Pragyan Ojha.
  • But most interestingly, after an insipid first innings, Munaf Patel bowled with fire in the 2nd innings for RoI. His 5-for-25 off 7.3 overs wrecked Mumbai and caused them to crumble to 106 all out (and his fighting partnership with Ranadeb Bose in the RoI 1st innings to take RoI to a lead will perhaps help his cause too)!

Ps: Who is Omkar Gurav? What happend to Vinayak Mane?

EDIT: Vinayak Mane is injured.

— Mohan

ODI team for Bangladesh – Ranji ODI stats giving some pointers?

As we have already started speculating about the ODI team to Bangladesh I just pulled up some stats from the Ranji ODI competition. This is the stats according to most runs scored for the top 10 batsmen.

Mat I NO Runs HS Ave SR 100 50 Ct St Team

W Jaffer 7 7 1 394 170* 65.66 84.18 2 1 2 – BOM
K Goel 7 6 1 369 111 73.80 74.69 1 3 3 – PNJB
BM Rowland 7 7 2 341 102* 68.20 87.66 2 1 2 – KNTKA
M Kaif 6 6 1 340 151* 68.00 88.77 2 1 3 – UP
SA Asnodkar 5 5 1 325 104 81.25 72.06 1 3 1 – GOA
D Mongia 7 6 1 299 97 59.80 81.91 – 3 4 – PNJB
G Gambhir 6 5 0 296 116 59.20 87.05 2 – 2 – DELHI
RG Sharma 7 7 0 296 102 42.28 82.91 1 1 5 – RAJ
AS Jain 6 6 1 286 95 57.20 69.24 – 2 – – RAJ
S Badrinath 7 7 2 278 120 55.60 87.69 1 1 4 – TN

From the above I really want to see Jaffer in the team. I think Mogia also should come in. Rohit Sharma does not seem to have scored in this competition, but he has done a lot this year apparently and he can bowl usefully.. I think Kaif may also get a call again. Though Tewary is not in the above list, he has done more than enough this year. The no 2 on the list Karan Goel is very young and is only 20.

Jaffer, Uthappa, Tewary, Dravid, Yuvraj, Mongia, Dhoni/Karthik, Powar, Munaf, Zaheer, Sreesanth, with Ranadeb Bose and Gambhir completing the 14. What say?

– Sanjay

Can Mazumdar do a Hussey for India???

In India there is a general perception that a player over the age of 30 should not be made to make an international debut. But I was looking at the case of Michael Hussey and his success at the international level and wondered if there was anyone of comparable experience, talent and form to get into the national side. The first name that I came across was Amol Mazumdar. So I just pulled out his domestic record and this is what I get.

Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave 100 50 Ct St
127    192      22    8685    260 51.08 22     50 140  0

Now let us look at Michael Hussey and his domestic record.

Mat  Inns  NO   Runs HS   Ave    100 50   Ct St
193     345       33     16956   331*   54.34 44   75 209  0

OK, the Hussey record is so much superior. No comparisons. He has played more games and scored tons more centuries. Also the Australian domestic competition is at a much higher level. But we had our own Sachins and Dravids coming through our own ‘inferior’ domestic seasons. So!!!! But I am interested in a couple of factors here.

1. They are both approximately the same age.

2. They both have a very similar batting average.

3. In about 70 odd more matches, Hussey has scored about 20 more centuries and 25 more fifties.

My point is in the next 8 tests, if Mazumdar can score about 800 odd runs at an average of 40 odd with about 2 or 3 centuries we have got someone who is doing better than what Sehwag has done. Can we see if there are other comparable over 30 candidates out there. Mazumdar is in good nick now, Mumbai has won the Ranji Trophy, and if Mazumdar can do better than what I want him to do, he could even be considered India captain! Anyway we are speculating and this is an India fansite!!

– Sanjay

Indian Cricket Strategic Roadmap…

Vish Krishnan has already talked about mental strength as the first anchor points. This is an excellent starting point towards the formation of a strategic roadmap for Indian cricket.

Everyone has a view. Vish Krishnan has. I do too. The Indian cricket fan on the street has a view. These range from a “kick them all out” to a more phlegmatic “take the pains with the gains” approach.

Price Waterhouse Coopers, India too have a view. They came out with a plan to augment self-belief in the team.

Narayana Murthy (Infosys guru and noted visionary) came out with a statement on “sticking to process and not giving up“. He seemed to echo the words of the legendary Australian Rugby wizard John Eales: “Courage even under intense pressure and sticking to the game plan” was his mantra. Narayana Murthy felt that the Indian team management gave up on their “process thinking” and started to concentrate far too much on immediate outcomes when under intense pressure.

A few others commented on this blogsite on a few other aspects including fitness and so on.

Here is (what I think is) a fuller list of things that Indian cricket needs to concentrate on to bounce back (this includes the three dot points in Vish Krishnan’s earlier posting):

  • Improve Mental strength at all levels
  • Skills improvement
  • Better Player management
  • Develop fast Pitches for local competition
  • Implement a Player Endorsement Management Program
  • Improve Fitness levels
  • Revamp the domestic competition
  • Improve Fielding: When will Indian cricket learn that this is important
  • Have a vision and stick to it.
  • Better management of Indian media.
  • Improve situational awareness capabilities of all players.

All of these require much more indepth analysis and elaboration. Let us construct this list and then develop these further. Please comment on other headline items. We will then address each of the above in turn.

Player Endorsement Management

A quick word of clarification on “Player Endorsement Management”. At the moment, poster-boys like Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Dhoni and Pathan are brand ambassadors for a huge plethorta brands each. I have absolutely nothing against players making money out of cricket. As I was saying to a friend of mine over a heated email exchange, I do not begrudge them their earnings. The market decides how much these guys get paid. Not you and me.

There are numerous stories of the litany of players who fall by the wayside in their attempts to get to the top of their profession. I know of several sportspersons from my school who made a choice to strike it out in cricket. A good friend of mine (name withheld for obvious reasons) was an excellent soccer, cricket and field-hockey player. He represented South Indian schools in soccer and cricket! He represented state juniors in cricket, soccer and hockey. He had to make a choice. He chose to focus on cricket. Five years and two injuries later, he was virtually on the road, with a drug addiction to kick off as well. He tried to get to the top. he fell by the wayside. But these players in the Indian team persevered despite the trials and tribulations and despite the politics-riddled system that they had to either fight against or work with. They fought the odds to get to the top. And they stuck to their self-belief to reach the top.

Good luck to them for what they get paid. I can’t begrudge them their right to get paid whatever just as I can’t begrudge the CEO of a top company getting what he gets paid. He is worth what the market says he is worth.

If Kelly Slater gets paid hell of a lot to ply his surfing trade, good luck to him. If Lance Armstrong gets paid a heck of a lot to ply his cycling trade, good luck to him. If Roger Federer gets paid what he does to ply his tennis trade, good luck to him. Similarly Tendulkar, Dravid or Ganguly… These are the fruits of individual life choices. We should not begrudge what people get paid.

We each made a choices to be what we wanted to be knowing full well that we would get paid (or not) in comparison to an insurance salesman, a retail executive, an IT professional or a cricketer or a soccer player. There — right there — we lost my right to whinge. At least, that is what I think!

All I can then ask for then is that there are checks and balances in the cricketing system.

  • There are no jobs for life.
  • There is a performance-based system in place.
  • The players give off their best.

That’s about it.

Yes, they played badly against Bangladesh. They probably played worse against Sri Lanka. But there are a multitude of reasons for these terrible losses. And we need to get to the bottom of these.

I agree that Indian fans would be disappointed. But asking for Dravid’s head on the guillotine (figuritively or really) or sacking 15 players from the team or some such drastic measure is not right. Just as constructing a temple when the team wins is not right. It is a game. We have to learn to accept the spills with the thrills…

But there have to be chacks and balances. And one is desperately needed in the area of player endorsement management, in my view.

No sponsor is going to make a cricketer their brand ambassador without exacting their pound of flesh in terms of player-time-commitment. The more time players spend with sponsors, the less time they have to polish their own games. And this is where the BCCI must step in. As the “employer” of the players, they would be well within their rights too impose a simple rule that states that no contracted player can enter into more than 10 (say) sponsorship deals. This could well sort out this issue of player-time-commitments, in my view. This rule could also be expressed in terms of total-lapse-time-contributed-to-sponsors. This will ensure that players do not over-sell themselves and their time. They would be able to exact more money (perhaps) from each of the sponsors and will also have time to spend on their own games.

But we are perhaps getting a bit ahead of ourselves. Let us agree on the main heads and we can then start expanding on each of these to develop a roadmap.

One issue is non-negotiable in my view: A strategic vision and a roadmap is urgently required. This inglorious and embarassing bombing-out has highlighted the necessity. In that sense, it is a blessing in disguise.

Like much of India (in my view) there was more spin and less substance to the cricket team. This inadequacy was exposed rudely. Like the rest of India will get a rude shock (my prediction) in the near future, the Indian cricket team has received this rude shock. It is opportune. Rather than wallow in depression, it is time to sit up and use this as a positive opportunity to chart a cogent progress pathway.


— Mohan

Ranji and Duleep Trophies to be revamped

Some time back I had suggested that the domestic competition in India needed an overhaul.

Yesterday’s Times of India had reports indicating that, starting next season, both the Ranji Trophy as well as the Duleep Trophy would be overhauled!

But I believe the proposals, while along the right lines (in terms of rationale and objectives) is a bit flawed.

Ranji Trophy:

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.

Duleep Trophy:

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.

— Mohan

Another domestic competition strategy…


After reading Mohan’s article on how to improve the Indian domestic cricket competition, I thought I’d put my own ideas together. This is what I think needs to be done –

  • Create a new domestic cricket competition
  • Create six new teams to play in this competition
  • Operate this in a sports franchise model – similar to NFL or NBA
  • Get companies such as MRF, Sahara etc, bidding for these teams and owning them
  • Each team recruits its own players. BCCI will eventually have to work out salary caps etc.
  • Each team has 15 players, of which 4 can be overseas players.
  • Make sure that not more than one team make the same city its home.
  • Each team plays 2 Twenty20 games in a week – One on Saturday and one on Sunday
  • Each team plays the other team twice – basically one home and one away game
  • In week 6, the top 2 teams play a best of 3 finals – split over 2 days.

Ok, What are the advantages of doing this?

Well for starters, these franchises will recruit the best players nationally and internationally. Each team will also prepare the pitch to suit their home team’s strengths. For example, if MRF chooses to own a team, they may include players from its Pace foundation and prepare fast and bouncy tracks for its home games. This will get players playing on good tracks.

Playing against and with quality players will also improve the overall standard of the players playing in the tournament.

If this model works for Twenty20 games, we can even try this for the regular one-day format in a few years.

What happens to the current domestic competition?

 Several changes have been recommended on how to make the current model better. But the model I’ve suggested can co-exist with the current Ranji/Duleep trophy models. This tournament can probably (but doesn’t have to) replace the current Challenger trophy one day tournament which consists of 3 teams – India Seniors, India A and India B.

Why Twenty20? And what about revenue ?

Twenty20 cricket games have been good crowd pullers wherever they’ve been played – It is not going to be any different in cricket-mad India. Players like Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Sehwag, Dhoni are big crowd magnets and if we add other international stars to these games, spectators are bound to turn up in large numbers. So will the television stations, wanting to broadcast these games. One of the main reasons these games are so popular is because they just last around 3 hours – and people do not have to sit  around a complete day (or five) to watch a game to its finish. Because these games are so short, they are very lively and full of action.

Ticket sales, television and franchise merchandise should be able to cover the revenue part.

When do we find time to host this tournament in a busy international calendar? And what if some of the players are called up to play for the national team?

BCCI will have to work out when this tournament should be played. Domestic matches are always going to clash with international fixtures and players selected for national duty will not be available to play in these tournaments. Unfortunately, that is the way it works – but it does give opportunities for other players to step up and make an impact on these matches.

Is this going to improve the standard of cricket in India?

People will argue that Twenty20 is not “real” cricket and a twenty over game is not really going to improve anyone’s cricket. Sure, Twenty20 is a different breed of cricket, and some of the players’ weaknesses may not be as apparent as in the longer version, but as I said earlier – playing with and against quality players will help in improving the standard of all players playing.


There may be few flaws in the model and it may not be suitable in the exact form that I have proposed, but it is a sound model which I am sure can be made to work…