The Irani Cup may not be part of the 2018-19 Indian domestic calendar, and the Ranji Trophy could instead feature an additional knockout round. These changes will come into effect if the Supreme-Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) approves a list of proposals drafted by the BCCI’s technical committee during a meeting on Monday.
The technical committee has also approved the inclusion of Bihar as the 29th team in the Ranji Trophy. “However, the committee felt in the view of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India’s judgment dated July 18, 2016, the North Eastern associates and affiliate members must also be considered,” a BCCI release stated. “The recommendations of the Technical Committee will be sent to the Committee of Administrators (CoA) and then ratified by the BCCI general body.”
The Irani Cup, which pits the Ranji Trophy champions against a Rest of India team, has been a regular fixture in domestic cricket since the 1959-60 season. It does not form part of the newly proposed calendar, however, which will proceed as follows: Duleep Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy, Ranji Trophy league phase, Mushtaq Ali T20, Ranji Trophy knockouts, Deodhar Trophy.
According to the new proposals, the Ranji Trophy will retain the broad framework that was in use in the 2017-18 season, with four groups of teams playing home and away games. This went against the wishes of a number of captains and coaches, who recently pushed for a return to the old three-group format, which they felt would offer teams more matches.
The inclusion of a pre-quarterfinal stage, however, could mean four teams qualify for the knockouts from each group rather than two.
The newly proposed Ranji Trophy format, if approved, will also be implemented in the (Under-19) Cooch Behar Trophy and the (Under-23) CK Nayudu Trophy.
The Duleep Trophy is set to feature the pink Kookaburra ball, and include only four teams – one from each Ranji Trophy group. The 50-overs Deodhar Trophy will similarly feature one team each from the four Ranji groups.
In the recently concluded 2017-18 season, the Mushtaq Ali T20 began with an zonal tournament, from which ten teams – two from each zone – qualified for the Super League stage, divided into two groups. The two group toppers met in the final. The new proposals include a semi-final stage after the Super League.