Vijay Hazare Trophyon chopping block

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The BCCI’s apex council on Friday is set to discuss the structure of what could well be the shortest domestic season in Indian cricket this century.

Despite the continuing uncertainty because of the increase in COVID-19 cases across the country, the apex council is hard-pressed for time and needs to address various issues that are critical to the BCCI’s functioning. Prominent on the 11-point agenda is topic No. 3: “Discussion on finalising BCCI’s Domestic Cricket structure for 2020-2021 season”.

Conventionally, the BCCI finalises the domestic calendar in July. But the pandemic has delayed matters. And with the risk associated with outdoor activities and the need for protecting player health, the apex council may well decide to severely curtail the number of domestic tournaments.

December start targeted

At the moment, the BCCI is hoping for approvals to start the domestic season in December. This means at least one of the three inter-State championships will have to be abandoned. Considering the focus on the Twenty20 format due to global championships, the Vijay Hazare Trophy (50 overs) could well be done away with for the forthcoming season.

If the BCCI can start the domestic season in December, then the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (T20) will be followed by a shortened Ranji Trophy. Depending on the format finalised for the Ranji Trophy, only the multi-day tournaments for Under-23 and Under-19 — Col. C.K. Nayudu Trophy and Cooch Behar Trophy, respectively — will be planned.

The apex council is likely to abandon the under-14 and under-16 boys’ inter-State tournaments. It will be interesting to see if it decides to revert to the old formula of under-15 and under-17 age-group cricket for the following season to not deprive youngsters of opportunities.

Women’s cricket is set to suffer, with the possibility of only the under-23 and senior women’s one-day tournaments to be announced for the coming season.

Meanwhile, it is highly unlikely that the apex council will decide the Ranji Trophy format.

“It all depends on the window in hand, so it’s too early to go into the nitty-gritty.

“The BCCI’s cricket operations wing has been coordinating with the private firm that has been involved in planning the domestic calendar,” said a BCCI insider.

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