Home venues with neutral curators, please. That was the main suggestion put forward by majority of state cricket associations to the Indian cricket board at the captains and coaches conclave in Mumbai. The issues discussed at the conclave ranged from requests for state contracts for Ranji players to increase in daily allowance. Attempts were also made to make the umpiring accountable by reintroduction of captains’ report after each Ranji game.
The chief topic of discussion was neutral venues. Last season, many Ranji teams faced problems owing to apathy that existed at the neutral venues. Unsurprisingly, a majority of associations wanted a rollback of the idea. The Indian Express understands that top associations such as Mumbai, Karnataka, Saurashtra and Uttar Pradesh were not in favour of neutral venues as it takes toll on players, especially with only a gap of four days between two games.
Many have suggested that the BCCI appoint their curators at each venue who would prepare sporting wickets. There were also suggestions to give an extra point to the team which wins outright while playing away from home.
Only five associations — Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Orissa, Railways and Services — were in favour of neutral venues. Delhi and Punjab did not send any representatives for the conclave. BCCI’s acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary said that the board would analyse the logic and arguments put forward for neutral venues before taking a call. “There were views supporting both formats. Instead of making a calculation of how many people were on which side, what has been done is that the points made to substantiate a certain position have been collated and will be brought to the working committee and the general body,” Choudhary said.
The idea of neutral venues was originally introduced to deny home advantage for host teams as some allegedly doctored the pitches and matches got over in mere two days. But after last season, many captains have already expressed the problems of apathy at neutral venues.
Contract for state players?
The state associations do not have a system of annual contracts and players have to rely on match fees which comes after a gap of one year. So, many captains have asked the BCCI to introduce a contract system for the Ranji Trophy teams as well, just like they do for national players.
Players have been complaining about the lack of insurance cover from state associations if a player is injured in a Ranji game. Recently, veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh had written a letter to India coach Anil Kumble requesting him to look into domestic players’ match fees while he made presentation in front of Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators.
The CoA members Vikram Limaye, Ramchandra Guha and Diana Eduljee assured the house that they would look into the payment structure. “Everyone wanted BCCI to increase pay for domestic cricket. There is a big pool who don’t play IPL and if they are not rewarded then there will be a time when no one would like to play the four-day tournament,” a Ranji Trophy-winning captain said.
Hike in daily allowance
The conclave also discussed that board should give a uniform daily allowance for the Ranji teams. Currently, there is no uniformity when it comes to daily allowance teams get. For instances, an association like Mumbai pays `1000 as DA whereas many teams get only `500 per day. “Many a times we are put up in four or five star hotels but our DA remains 500 rupees. If you order a chai, it cost more than 150 rupees in these five star hotels. At least there should be a hike in DA,” another captain said.
Meanwhile, many captains complained about the standard of umpiring in domestic games which has been a cause of concern. A few captains also requested the BCCI to re-start captains’ report, which the Indian board had done away two years ago.
“The umpiring have been horrible. The worst point is that domestic games are not telecast apart from knock-out stages. Look how the umpiring has gone down. When we argue about it, we are handed over punishments or fines. What about the umpires? Nothing has been happening to them. At least have a captain’s report after the game, so that we could register our concerns,” a captain said.