The inclusion of all North Eastern states has forced BCCI to schedule an unprecedented 2018 domestic matches, which many fear would lead to logistical nightmare.
The addition of Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Uttarakhand and Bihar has led to an exponential increase in number of matches from senior men, women to U-16 level (boys and girls).
The domestic calender starts with senior women’s Challenger Trophy from August 13 to 20. The men’s calender starts with Duleep Trophy (day/night in pink ball) from August 17 to September 9.
It will be followed by Vijay Hazare (National One Dayers) starting September 19 to October 20 (31 days) with 160 matches slotted for the tournament.
The Ranji Trophy will be held from November 1 to February 6, 2019 with another 160 matches.
There will be another 140 games slotted under National T20 championship for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
In the men’s U23 section, there will be 302 games (151 each) across formats while U19 boys will have 286 games (143 each) in two formats.
The senior women will have 295 matches in the season with U23 having 292 games.
While many in BCCI wanted the North Eastern states to be integrated through a robust junior programme, the Lodha Reforms on having NE states playing Ranji Trophy has left everyone in a tight corner.
“It will be a logistical nightmare. We will have overworked match officials like umpires and match referees, who wouldn’t get time to recoup after one round. They will be constantly on the move,” a senior BCCI official told PTI on Wednesday.
As of now, the number of match officials (umpires, match referees, scorers) are not enough to support this exhaustive calender.
The other big issue is the cricket grounds in the North Eastern states. “Save Meghalaya’s ground in Shillong and one standard first class level ground in Dimapur (Nagaland), the other states are still on course of restructuring and upgrading their facilities. Also we need to keep the weather and light conditions in mind,” a senior NE state official said.
“Recently, a NE task force headed by Prof Ratnakar Shetty visited NE states. We have told them that BCCI needs to release funds in order to get the stadiums and indoor facilities ready before domestic season starts,” he said.