A long way to go but proposed change is a step in right direction: Bhogle

At last, some light at the end of what seemed an interminable tunnel. India's domestic cricket, as contemporary as the long playing record and as effective as a coalition government, is letting itself change a bit. It was doing India's cricket no good at all and while you could still do a bit of nitpicking with what this committee has come up with, the intent is admirable and it will be disappointing if the changes are not accepted immediately.

As readers of this column are aware, I have long argued that the ideal number of teams in the Ranji Trophy is twelve. Playing twenty seven teams entails far too much dilution of quality. Our domestic cricket has long been irrelevant and uncompetitive and at last that has been accepted. No change can begin unless there is an acceptance that the present is ineffective.

We still have 27 teams (the political reality, as we see everyday, often comes in the way of a greater good) but the marginal teams, those that bring the overall standard down, will now be marginalised further with the suggestion that you have three divisions of nine teams each. It might be harsh on them but if promotion to a higher group isn't an incentive then maybe they shouldn't be playing anyway. There is an attempt to make each match competitive by allowing the top three to play the knock out and the bottom two to go down. This is especially true of level 2 where you could finish outside the top two, and therefore not be promoted, but still have the opportunity of playing the knock out. And there is an opportunity for level 3 teams with the top two allowed into the quarter final.

You could say that two teams from the bottom nine will dilute the level of the knockout stage but it could be just the reward for a team with ambition as we saw with Rajasthan a couple of years ago. And even a team that finishes fourth in level 1 will have played eight first class games which is a couple short of ideal but better than what it was.

... contd.

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