State units 'helpless', urge to hold Ranji Trophy before IPL auction as rising count of domestic absentees worries BCCI | Crickit
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State units 'helpless', urge to hold Ranji Trophy before IPL auction as rising count of domestic absentees worries BCCI

Mar 21, 2024 02:16 PM IST

Over the past month, the BCCI issued strict diktat to ensure player participation in the Ranji Trophy, India's premier domestic tournament.

As the IPL 2024 gears up for its highly anticipated kickoff on March 22, the focus is not just on the thrilling matches but also on the balance between domestic cricket and the lucrative T20 tournament. Despite recent warnings from the BCCI about prioritizing domestic cricket over the IPL, a significant number of players seem to have missed the memo.

Mumbai players celebrate their Ranji Trophy win in the 2023-24 season(PTI)
Mumbai players celebrate their Ranji Trophy win in the 2023-24 season(PTI)

An analysis by the Indian Express has revealed a concerning trend among IPL players, with 56 out of 165 players not participating in a single Ranji Trophy fixture this season. Additionally, 25 players only appeared in one Ranji Trophy match, highlighting a lack of commitment to India's premier first-class cricket competition. While some argue that players may be avoiding four-day matches to reduce injury risks and extend their white-ball careers, the absence of a clear BCCI policy also raises questions about accountability.

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The newspaper talked to Brigadier Anil Gupta, a member of the administration team running the J&K unit, who stated that BCCI's decision to conduct the IPL auction before the Ranji Trophy is hurting the premier domestic tournament.

“This is a matter of concern. Forget fast bowlers (who are injury-prone), even batters with IPL contracts don’t want to play Ranji Trophy. We have requested the BCCI to conduct the IPL auction after the Ranji Trophy. We are suffering because of it,” he said.

Another official stated that there is "no clear policy or fitness protocol," leading to many players skipping the Ranji games, citing injuries. “The BCCI allowed them to get away with it. With no clear policy or fitness protocol, the state units were helpless in forcing IPL stars to play first-class cricket,” a senior state unit official told the newspaper.

Among some of the leading Indian players, Hardik Pandya hasn't played the red-ball tournament since 2018, while his brother, Krunal, too, skipped the Ranji Trophy this year.

Ishan Kishan had made himself unavailable for selection in the Ranji Trophy despite insistence from head coach Rahul Dravid to take part in the tournament. Ishan had been away from the Indian team, reportedly for mental health concerns, since December last year and was told to make a return to domestic cricket before being considered for national selection again.

BCCI's recent actions

In response to this challenge, BCCI secretary Jay Shah announced a 'Test cricket incentive scheme' aimed at encouraging players to prioritize red-ball cricket. Under this scheme, players who feature in over 50 per cent of Test matches in a season will receive substantial financial incentives, with 30 lakh per match for playing 11 members and 15 lakh for non-playing members.

Those who participate in more than 75 per cent of Test matches, equivalent to seven or more fixtures out of nine, will receive even higher incentives, providing a significant boost for players committed to Test cricket.

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