The new format for the Ranji Trophy is supposed to be a step in the right direction, but teams seldom contain more than two players with the potential to play for India.
Right idea but wrong trophy
It has been obvious for a while now that Indian domestic cricket, while not broken, needs fixing. The new format for the Ranji Trophy is supposed to be a step in the right direction, with the 27 state and institutional sides divided into three groups of nine.
The previous avatar had 15 teams [eight in one group, seven in the other] in an Elite division and 12 in the Plate division, with the top two Plate sides also playing in the quarter-finals. When Rajasthan won the trophy in 2010/11, they started the season as a Plate side.
The more significant change sees the knockout games made five-day affairs, rather the four, reducing the chances of teams playing solely to get a first-innings lead. Rajasthan's success was notable in that they did not win a single knockout game outright.
Draws cannot be attributed to lack of initiative alone though. Some of the pitches are a blight on the game, encouraging neither stroke play or attacking bowling. Such dismal surfaces reduce contests to battles of attrition, and the toss often play far too great a role in the result.
The changes have been greeted with cautious optimism, but it is impossible to escape the feeling the focus is on the wrong competition. Ranji Trophy teams seldom contain more than two players with the potential to play for India. The Duleep Trophy - which pits the five zones against each other - boasts far greater strength in depth. If that was the premier competition, with zones playing each other home and away, individual matches would offer better selection pointers. But in this case, common sense will always take a back seat to tradition.
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