Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is the Ranji Trophy relevant anymore?

(Also in Bengali daily Ek Din)
Another Ranji Trophy final. Another appearance for Mumbai in the final – their 43rd. And then, another win – their 39th. Of the 76 editions of the Ranji Trophy, Mumbai have won 39. But that’s just a record. If we play the Ranji Trophy for another 50 years, Mumbai will probably win it another 30 times.

How does it matter though?

Yes, I still think Test cricket is the most important format of the game, and I do think the Ranji Trophy is the best source of young talent. But if the BCCI doesn’t care about the Ranji Trophy, then why are we so bothered about it?
Senior Indian cricketers are not asked to play the Ranji Trophy. Rahul Dravid played the semi-finals for Karnataka, but Sachin Tendulkar, despite being in India, refused to take part. Tendulkar, of course, does what he wants, and the BCCI does whatever Tendulkar wants. But if the BCCI is not in a position to force the players to play in the Ranji Trophy, what legal right does the BCCI have to force the players to play in the Indian Premier League?

Yes, the players, being human, would rather play the IPL to earn money. They are not as interested in the Ranji Trophy, because they are already in the Indian team – their state teams don’t matter anymore.

Yes, the IPL is played within a fixed window, the Ranji Trophy is not. This means that players who are playing for India cannot, logically, make time for the Ranji Trophy in its entirety.

And that brings me to my point: why do we have to play the Ranji Trophy then? Only because it has become a tradition? Only because no one has the guts to say “let’s forget the Ranji Trophy – it doesn’t matter”? Or only because the state associations and their cricketers don’t have any other big stage to perform in?

Come on, let’s face it: The Ranji Trophy doesn’t matter anymore. The IPL does. Whether we like it or not, the Indian team is selected on the basis of players’ performances in the IPL, or on the basis of Krishnamachari Srikkanth’s likes and dislikes. Success in the IPL brings you a place in the Indian T20 team. Then the ODI team. And once Dravid, Tendulkar and VVS Laxman retire, the same people will be in the Test team.

Then why this annual farce?