The Ranji coaches, captains conclave on Tuesday evoked a variety of suggestions from the invitees. The first-class season was highlighted by changes in Ranji groupings format and alterations in the points system to push teams into changing the mindset.
Coaches were in agreement about giving time for first-time changes introduced to be understood so that teams can re-orient their approach. Ranji coaches felt the gap between matches in the league and knockout phase needs to be looked at, besides the possibility of staging knockout games at neutral venues.
Technical Committee chairman, Anil Kumble, taking in the feedback from Ranji representatives across the nation, said, “we could have some matches with three days in between while others could have four days gap in between. We will have to see how it works.”
Hyderabad Ranji coach and former India left-arm spinner, Sunil Joshi, explained: “Teams need a break of four days between games in the latter half of the Ranji Trophy when fatigue starts to creep in, maybe not so much at the start. With the amount of travelling to be done, sometimes taking the road to reach places, more days between games will help.”
Mumbai coach Sulakshan Kulkarni observed: “Earlier teams complained about getting few games, now each gets to play at least eight times in the league. The issue of recovery has now come up, all teams do not have bowling options to use the bench strength properly. We rotated about eight bowlers.”
Six points for an outright win, one more than last season, did not see sides ahead on first innings always pushing for victory. Kulkarni, asked to explain Ranji champion Mumbai’s hesitancy, said: “We went close in one game. At other times, both teams scored 500-plus in the race for first innings points. You cannot expect overworked bowlers to deliver again.”
The decision to schedule Irani Trophy just after the Ranji final was appreciated by coach Kulkarni, happy that from now on, a team in form could challenge Rest of India. Asked about his team’s inability to win this time despite having a near full side, he felt the bowling unit missed Ajit Agarkar and Zaheer Khan.
W.V. Raman, Bengal coach and ex-India opener, suggested calculating over rate using a new method of taking two matches as one block. “Captains will get a chance to make up in the second match, in case bowlers had fallen behind in the first.” Joshi advocated an incentive point for Ranji teams enforcing the follow-on.
Kumble was happy with feedback about Ranji groupings, involving 27 teams split into three groups, replacing the previous Elite and Plate Divisions. “Everyone expressed happiness over the new format, there was consensus,” said the former India captain and a special invitee to the deliberations.
He added: “Some of them suggested the Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day event be held on similar lines as the Ranji Trophy, spread across three groups. I feel it will be a logistical nightmare. We will have a technical committee, perhaps by March third week, to discuss the suggestions.”
BCCI president N. Srinivasan, secretary Sanjay Jagdale, Cricket Development General Manager, Ratnakar Shetty, were present at the annual conclave. Grounds and Pitches Committee chairman, Daljit Singh, was one of two invitees at a gathering highlighting the season 2013 when Mumbai won the Ranji Trophy, Delhi won the Vijay Hazare Trophy.