30 Jan

There will be no Ranji Trophy in India cricket for the first time since its inception in 1934-35, but the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) has announced that the senior men's, senior women's and Under-19 men's 50-over competitions would be held in the current domestic season, which has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in a major way. 

Jay Shah, the BCCI secretary, wrote to the various state associations on Friday (29 January) announcing this, adding that "this has been decided after having received your (state associations') feedback". 

Shah pointed out that "it has been difficult to plan the cricket calendar on account of the precautions that are necessary for the safe conduct of the games." 

"It was extremely important for us to ensure that women's cricket takes place and I am extremely happy to inform you that we are going to conduct the Senior Women's One-day tournament simultaneously with the Vijay Hazare Trophy [men's 50-over tournament] and follow it up with Vinoo Mankad Trophy Under-19. 

"The details regarding these tournaments shall be communicated to you [state associations] shortly." 

Shah pointed to the "successful conduct" of the T20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy - the final is scheduled for Sunday - and the plans for the upcoming senior men's series against England to sound a note of hope. The 

BCCI had earlier asked the state associations to give their suggestions on the domestic calendar, which has had to be curtailed in a big way because of the pandemic. The 2020 edition of the IPL was held in the UAE, with the four-match Women's T20 Challenge held alongside the playoffs of the men's event, and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy has taken place across seven centres since January 10.  

Next up is the all-format series between India and England - to be played in Chennai, Ahmedabad and Pune - from February 5 to March 28. The 2021 edition of the IPL is expected after that, but there is no clarity yet if it will be played in India or elsewhere, with the UAE remaining one of the possible alternative venues. 

After the BCCI's annual general meeting on 24 December in Ahmedabad, the board was exploring the possibility of hosting the Ranji Trophy, which has been an ever-present fixture in the domestic calendar for 86 editions. 

Sourav Ganguly, the former India captain who is now the president of the BCCI, had himself voiced his keenness to have the tournament, and there were suggestions that it might be held - in a shorter format than usual - after the Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Hazare tournaments. The state associations, however, were not in favour of hosting the multi-day tournament. 

The BCCI, however, has not yet said anything about the women's national team, which hasn't taken the field since March 8, 2020 - the final of the women's T20 World Cup against Australia. Much of their scheduled tours have been cancelled or suspended, the latest being a tour of Australia, which was originally slotted for January but has been postponed until next season. 

John Stephenson 


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