The 2020-21 Indian domestic season could be limited to just white-ball cricket as several state associations have told the BCCI that they prefer to play the 20-over Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy. A final decision is expected to be made by the BCCI soon after it seeks opinion from the states by December 2.
With the Indian domestic season failing to start on time due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the BCCI sent out an email on Sunday, asking state associations to pick their preference from four options by Wednesday. The options included: only Ranji Trophy, only Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, both the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Ranji Trophy, or only the limited-overs tournaments – along with tentative dates for each, in the timeframe between December 20 and March 18.
ESPNcricnfo understands several states, including defending Ranij Trophy champions Saurashtra, domestic heavyweights Mumbai and Tamil Nadu, along with Baroda and Punjab, are all in favour of playing primarily the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the Vijay Hazare tournaments.
The outliers among those contacted by ESPNcricinfo are the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA) and the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) along with the Andhra Cricket Association and the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA), who have chosen the option of playing the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy followed by the Ranji Trophy.
The BCCI had listed December 20-January 10 as the window for the domestic T20s. The Ranji Trophy would span 67 days starting January 11 through March 18. The Vijay Hazare Trophy has been proposed between January 11 and February 7.
The major concerns that the states have expressed are centered around preparation and team selection. While some states have gradually begun to restart operations, training camps, and local tournaments over the last few months, the majority of them will be forced into a hurried pre-season based on BCCI’s current proposed dates.
According to Shah the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy should also be conducted “group-wise” and preferably in the same zones to avoid travel hurdles amid the pandemic. Most states associations also pointed out that based on the conduct of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, and the state of the pandemic in the country at the time, the BCCI could look at staging the Ranji Trophy thereafter.
Rohit Pandit, chief executive officer at the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association, said that the central Indian state was “more or less okay” with the BCCI’s proposed dates. Given that cricket in the state has been ongoing since July, he pointed out that logistical challenges aside, the team should be ready.
In a press release, the KSCA said they were pushing for all kinds of cricket – men and women, across age groups – to resume to safeguard the welfare of those who are involved in the game. They are also understood to be willing to play hosts, with at least eight first-class standard grounds available in the state.
“We, KSCA, have suggested to the BCCI to conduct T20 and Ranji Trophy, and later Vijay Hazare Trophy,” the release said. “We have further suggested to conduct all tournaments for both men and women, for all age groups for the season 2020-21. We have further said, if need be, skip the Duleep Trophy, Irani Trophy and Deodhar Trophy. We have said in case the activities are not held, then all the direct stakeholders including players, especially the age-group category cricketers, umpires, scorers, video analysts, coaches, support staff and others will stand to lose substantially on the cricketing front as well monetary front.”
Bengal, who finished runner-up in the Ranji Trophy last season, are in favour of playing the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Ranji Trophy. The Cricket Association of Bengal, which is currently headed by Avishek Dalmiya, has also expressed keenness to be one of the six bio-secure venues for the forthcoming domestic season.
A senior office bearer at Mumbai Cricket Association said that it was “it was a difficult ask which BCCI has to handle” and hence in its response the MCA had not put any conditions, including when the tournament should begin.
Incidentally, the MCA is yet to resume cricketing activities and Mumbai are currently without a selection committee as well as a head coach. VCA has also asked the BCCI to facilitate resumption of cricketing activity in Maharashtra in order for players to get ample time for preparation.
Some states like Tamil Nadu have already set the ball rolling and have called for a selection meeting later this week to pick a longlist of probables. Most states have asked the BCCI to make their decision soon and provide the tournament dates so that they can pick the teams accordingly. They have also sought details of the bio-secure hubs, where the teams would be based during a domestic tournament, and quarantine requirements.