Mumbai cricketers Praveen Amre, Sulakshan Kulkarni (Coach, Mumbai), Nilesh Kulkarni and Amol Muzumdar endorsed the BCCI Technical Committee’s decision to introduce a new format with nine teams in three groups and a revised points system for the Ranji Trophy tournament from the 2012-13 season Former India batsman and ace fielder Yajurvendra Singh said he preferred the old zonal, super league and knock out format and points system that recognised exceptional batting and bowling performances. The five players took part in a seminar organised by the Sports Journalists’ Association of Mumbai (SJAM) and supported by Vicks’ Cheer for Champions at the Y. B. Chavan Prathisthan hall here on Tuesday.

“There has been three structural changes in my career like playing the zonal and knock out and the tournament running up to even May, the introduction of SG balls in the early 1990s and the Elite and Plate groups.” The left arm spinner, Kulkarni, concurred with Muzumdar and said that any change has to be welcomed and teams should adapt to the new system. The points system is good with the team getting a maximum of seven for an outright win by an innings or by ten wickets said Muzumdar, while Nilesh said the teams losing by an innings should be docked a minus point.

Former Tamil Nadu and current Bengal coach W.V. Raman said through a message that “The revised format of Ranji Trophy (3 x 9 teams) will give it a new twist; in that there is no threat of relegation to the plate even though by implication Group C will be seen as the poorer cousin given that only two teams qualify from it to the knock out stage. However the grouping does provide a good mix with teams of different cailbre will be fighting it out for the advanced stage. This will make the Ranji Trophy competitive, but it is a disappointment that nothing innovative has been done with the points system.”

“The idea behind some of the rules in the domestic circuit was to encourage players and teams to play to win, but the current points system in the Ranji Trophy does not serve the purpose in my opinion. Despite some games ending in a result, the urge to push for an outright win has not become second nature which more often than not makes the last 4-5 sessions of a game rather mundane and the players prefer to go through the motions without any qualms. In order to try and at least nudge the teams to think of an outright win, the points system needs to be re-visited and my suggestion is that if a team gains the first innings lead and eventually loses a game outright, it should retain the three points gained for the first innings lead and the side winning the game should be awarded five points for the outright along with the bonus as per the existing norms.

“This will mean that a side gaining the lead and winning the game will get 8 or 9 as the case may be, while a side losing the lead and eventually winning the game will get 5 or 6. The reason I say this is because when the first innings is decided in the first session of the third day, a high percentage of games peter into a boring draw. If the side is allowed to retain the rewards of its labour in gaining the first innings I am positive many captains will try to force the issue as it will be status quo even if he loses a game in trying to garner an additional 5 or 6 points. This becomes more relevant in games where the lead gained is a slender one.”

Punjab coach Vikram Rathour said via email that he played in the era when Punjab would play the league only against North Zone teams. “The top two teams will then qualify to play in knock outs. So the first class cricket would consist of playing three below average teams, two decent teams and if you didn’t qualify for knock outs that would be the end of your season. The elite and plate group was big and an important change. If you were in elite group you would play 6-7 games against mostly good team and so the level of exposure to quality cricket was much better. Now from this year onwards the format has been modified a little more where all the teams will play at least 8 games in league phase. This I believe is the best format of first class cricket so far. One aspect is missing though. The players who are playing international cricket hardly play any first class cricket. If the BCCI can find a way where all the players are made available to play for their states that will take Indian cricket to another level.”

Sunil Joshi (Hyderabad coach) said that this year’s competition will see a lot of good teams and players, the points system is also very good and that players will get many opportunities in eight league matches.

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