The recommendations of BCCI's eminent technical panel for major overhaul of the domestic structure have some positives. Yet, the committee's decision to ignore the need to have uncovered pitches comes as a disappointment.
At a time when domestic contests are largely lacking sparkle, uncovered wickets would have added an interesting element. And it would have also provided the players, at the formative stages of their career, an opportunity to become better rounded cricketers.
For instance, learning to bat on a drying surface would have enabled aspirants handle the varying bounce better. And the need to survive would have forced them to play with soft hands and use the depth and the width of the crease better.
On the flip side, a few matches in the northern parts of the country could get disrupted during the chill of the winter. Yet, this is a risk worth taking.
More so since several of the present-day batsmen, expected to replace the greats in the Indian batting line-up, are no more than flat track bullies. A look at the below par performances of the India ‘A' batsmen — Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma, to a lesser extent, have been exceptions — in the first two unofficial ‘Tests' in the West Indies puts things in perspective.
If cricketers experience different conditions in the Ranji Trophy — this will apply to the bowlers as well since they would require to adjust their length — it would make their transition to international cricket easier.
The panel's push to have the Duleep Trophy ahead of the Ranji season is open to question too. Cricketers who shine in the Ranji Trophy could lose form, fitness and focus by the time they feature in the Duleep Trophy the following season. Much of this game is about momentum — a youngster needs to parade his skills when high on confidence.
The panel's desire to have three groups of nine teams each does give every side eight league matches, with four at home and four away. More matches would mean more opportunities for the cricketers.
It remains to be seen, how, if the Board's working committee approves the move, the teams are segregated into three groups of nine teams each. The easiest way would be to pick the eight quarterfinalists of the previous season, plus another side that came closest to the knock-out stage in the top group.
Group ‘B' would have the middle-ranked sides while ‘C', the weaker outfits. And the incentive of promotions and the danger of relegations might fuel-drive the sides. That five teams, three from the middle group and two from the bottom, make the quarterfinals should work in favour of this system.
The move to recommend an extra day — a fifth for the quarterfinals and the semifinals — cannot be faulted either.
An extra point for an outright victory and the possibility of an additional sixth day if the first innings lead is not achieved in the first five days of a knock-out duel could be steps in the right direction.
A second bouncer in an over in a one-dayer is welcome. Yet the success of one bowler being given 12 overs in an innings would depend on the inventiveness of the captains. Truth to tell, the skippers have been too predictable in this form of the game.
Crucially, teams and curators who prepare placid, run-filled tracks should be penalised. And more home first class matches should not lead to more sides manipulating surfaces. There should be checks and balances in place.