The BCCI is mulling a truncated domestic season in 2020-21, featuring only the first-class Ranji Trophy and the T20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy for men, apart from the IPL. The tentative plan, seen by ESPNcricinfo, is yet to be ratified, but it would mean no 50-overs competitions – neither Vijay Hazare Trophy nor Deodhar Trophy – in a season that will run from November 19 to March 10. There is also no place for the first-class Duleep Trophy or Irani Cup in the proposal.
Senior women’s cricket will feature both the One Day League and the T20 League, albeit with fewer games than the 2019-20 season, and is scheduled between November 1 and April 12. Challenger Trophies across all categories – men and women, senior and junior – find no place in the proposal.
This news follows on from a board official telling ESPNcricinfo last week that a “priority list” of tournaments was being made with the Ranji Trophy on top.
As per the proposed plan, the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy will be held first, starting ten days after the IPL, from November 19, ending on December 7. The Ranji Trophy is then scheduled to begin from December 13 and will go on till March 10, just before the scheduled 2021 IPL.
Like in the past, the order of tournaments means that players could effectively be using the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament to impress the IPL franchises ahead of an auction, which in this case is scheduled to be held in December 2020 or January 2021.
A zonal system was originally being thought about for the Ranji Trophy, with one city from each zone hosting teams across four or five venues, but that format isn’t to be found in the proposal. There will be five groups. The top 24 teams of last season will be split into groups A, B, and C, with the top two from each qualifying automatically to the quarter-finals. Among the third-placed teams, the team with the highest “quotient” will also go through. The eighth quarter-final spot will be decided after a playoff between the winners of Group D, which will have up to eight teams, and Group E, which consists of the six teams from the north-east.
The bottom teams from groups A, B, and C will be relegated to Group D, with the top three teams from Group D going the other way. The bottom placed team from Group D will go down to Group E, and the winner from Group E will compete in Group D next season. Teams in each group will play on four grounds across two nearby cities and each team will travel “at least once, at most thrice” between venues.
In the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the women’s T20 league, 38 teams will be divided into six groups and each group’s matches will be held on two grounds in one city.
A total of 2036 games, across various age groups in the men’s and women’s categories, were played during the 2019-20 season. In normal circumstances, the season would have started in July-August and run till around March. That number will fall to 1183 next season based on this new proposal, which is still contingent on how the pandemic situation plays out in India.