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Friday, January 21, 2022

Ranji Trophy postponed due to rising Covid cases

Along with the Ranji Trophy, Col CK Nayudu Trophy and the Senior Women’s T20 League, too, have been put on hold.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty |
Updated: January 5, 2022 7:44:02 am
The BCCI press release stated, "BCCI does not want to compromise the safety of the players, support staff, match officials and other participants involved and hence, has decided to put the three tournaments on hold till further notice." (File)

The BCCI on Tuesday postponed the Ranji Trophy for this season in the wake of rising Covid cases. After the cancellation of the tournament last term, the postponement would cast doubt on the prospects of the premier domestic first-class competition for the 2021-22 season as well. The Ranji Trophy was supposed to start on January 13. But the cricket board has prioritised players’ health, receiving support from India all-rounder Shardul Thakur and state association officials for the decision.

After his seven-for at the Wanderers, when Shardul came to the post-day press conference, he was asked about the Ranji Trophy postponement and how it would impact domestic cricketers. “I feel for them. But you also have to look at the Covid scenario in the country. With the cases rising and we have so many domestic teams playing, it might not be easy to manage all the teams and to have a tab on each and everyone. So, I think right now whatever the Board has decided must be right. That’s why they have taken the decision,” Shardul, a domestic cricket thoroughbred, told reporters.

Along with the Ranji Trophy, Col CK Nayudu Trophy and the Senior Women’s T20 League, too, have been put on hold, as the BCCI stated in its press release: “The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Tuesday announced the postponement of the Ranji Trophy, Col CK Nayudu Trophy & Senior Women’s T20 League for the 2021-22 season in the wake of the rising COVID-19 cases in the country.

“The Ranji Trophy & Col CK Nayudu Trophy were scheduled to begin this month while the Senior Women’s T20 League was scheduled to commence in February.”

Addressing the health concerns, the statement added: “BCCI does not want to compromise the safety of the players, support staff, match officials and other participants involved and hence, has decided to put the three tournaments on hold till further notice. The BCCI will continue to assess the situation and take a call on the start of the tournaments accordingly.”

Virus on the loose

The decision comes on the heels of a Covid outbreak in the Bengal Ranji squad, with several players testing positive. A few days ago, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had to be hospitalised as a precautionary measure after testing positive for the virus. Ganguly is currently in home isolation. On Tuesday, Cricket Association of Bengal president Avishek Dalmiya was admitted to a hospital “as a precaution” after contracting Covid. He is said to be stable. Saurashtra Cricket Association president (SCA) Jaydev Shah informed that one player in the Ranji squad had tested positive “after coming back from the IPL trials”.

A steep rise in the number of Covid cases in India and globally has coincided with the spread of the Omicron variant of the virus. Shah backed the BCCI’s decision for postponement.

“I feel that the decision taken by (BCCI secretary) Jay bhai (Shah) and president Sourav Ganguly is a very good decision. Health is the most important part of life and cricket and money come after that. A lot of Covid cases are coming up and this is the right time to do it,” he told The Indian Express.

“The BCCI has already done a lot of tournaments and I think when the Covid situation improves, the Ranji Trophy would be the first priority. Even in a pandemic-induced situation, a lot of cricket has been played this season; the IPL, U-19, domestic T20 and one-dayers, women’s cricket… (But) the Ranji Trophy is a very big tournament. You can’t finish it in 10-15 days.”

The BCCI had changed the Ranji Trophy format for this season, dividing Elite teams into five groups plus matches in the Plate Group. Last season, the BCCI had announced compensation for the players, as domestic tournaments suffered Covid-forced cancellations. The Board also decided to increase the match fees for players across all age groups in men’s and women’s cricket.

“This year, (if the Ranji Trophy is eventually cancelled) the compensation situation will change. But money is not an important criterion right now, health is important,” the SCA president said.

 

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