The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) office-bearers met on Thursday to explore ways to restart the Indian domestic cricket season, which was postponed indefinitely, earlier this month, due to rise in Covid-19 cases across the country.
Having already conducted the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the Vijay Hazare Trophy this season, the Ranji Trophy was due to begin on January 13 but 10 days ahead of the scheduled start, the BCCI postponed it along with CK Nayudu Trophy and Senior Women’s T20 League keeping in mind the safety from the Covid-19.
“The BCCI does not want to compromise the safety of the players, support staff, match officials, and other participants involved and hence, has decided to put the three tournaments on hold till further notice. The BCCI will continue to assess the situation and take a call on the start of the tournaments accordingly,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah had said in a statement on January 4.
“BCCI thanks and continues to appreciate the efforts of the healthcare workers, state associations, players, support staff, match officials, and all the service providers who put their best foot forward to host more than 700 matches across 11 tournaments in the current 2021-22 domestic season,” it added.
A few days later, the board postponed the U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy knockouts too.
The office-bearers’ meeting, which took place on Thursday was called following representations from many state associations, which wanted the Ranji Trophy to begin immediately. During the meeting, which was called at a short notice, the BCCI office-bearers felt that the efforts should be made to restart the domestic season.
“There were initial discussions and the overriding sentiments are for us to restart the season. Nothing concrete has been decided yet, but yes, the board will see if the Ranji season can be revived,” a source, who was part of the meeting, confirmed the development to Cricbuzz.
Suggestions were made by the state affiliates that the season can be scheduled in such a way that it can be organised on either side of the IPL, which needs a free window in April and May.
Earlier, the BCCI had a contingency plan to hold the Ranji league phase before the IPL and knockouts after it. With the BCCI planning to start the IPL from March 27 and run it till May-end, the Ranji league matches could start in February and run till mid-March. The knockouts could be in June-July.
The tangible decline in the Covid-19 cases in different parts of the country is giving hope to players as well to restart the domestic season.
According to the BCCI, mid-way into the season, 748 matches have been completed with Vijay Hazare Trophy, Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, U19 Challenger Trophy, U-19 Women’s Challenger, Vinoo Mankad Trophy, Women’s U-19 One-Day Trophy, Women’s senior One-Day Trophy, Women’s Senior One-Day Challenger Trophy and Men’s U-25 State A trophy seen through.
Notably, the Indian board in the beginning of January 2022 had also started to disburse the match fees it owed to hundreds of domestic cricketers — male and female — for the numerous tournaments that had to be shelved due to COVID-19 in the 2020/21 season.
The Ranji Trophy was cancelled for the first time in its 85-year history in 2020-21 for the senior men and many players struggled financially. In the women’s category, the T20 tournament was shelved due to the pandemic.