Ranji Trophy to be split into two phases, no zonal teams in Duleep Trophy

The BCCI has announced the splitting of the Ranji Trophy into two phases for the 2024-25 domestic season. The decision comes following deliberations between a four-member working group and senior players and coaches, who had raised concerns over lack of game time owing to weather disruptions in northern India during winters.

Shardul Thakur was a prominent voice who had spoken of the need for bigger gaps between Ranji Trophy matchesPTI

Zonal format scrapped for Duleep Trophy

In another significant move, the senior men’s season-opening Duleep Trophy, which will be played from September 5 in Anantapur, will not be played between zonal teams. This marks yet another change to the structure of the tournament whose relevance has been questioned by several notable voices in recent times.

In 2022-23, the BCCI had reverted to the zonal format with the six teams (North, South, East, West, Central and North East) picked by a zonal committee chaired by a convener. The move was seen as a way to add more context to the tournament.

This season, the tournament has been whittled down to a four-team event with squads picked by the national selectors. ESPNcricinfo understands one of the reasons for this move is to ensure the selectors are able to give a wider pool of players, including those in the targeted group, enough opportunities heading into India’s Test season.

India are set to host Bangladesh and New Zealand for Test series at home before traveling to Australia between November and January for a five-Test series, all of which are part of the 2023-25 World Test Championship cycle. It’s likely the Test season will be preceded by two shadow tours, one at home and one in Australia.

No toss in CK Nayudu Trophy

In a bid to increase competitiveness and prevent hosts from tailoring tracks to suit their strengths, the Under-23 CK Nayudu Trophy, seen as a feeder tournament for the senior state teams, will no longer feature tosses. The visiting team will instead be allowed to choose whether to bat or bowl first.

The BCCI has also introduced a “revamped points system “aimed at fostering balanced performances. This includes the attribution of points for batting and bowling prowess in the first innings, alongside points for securing the first innings lead or achieving an outright victory.”

More to follow…

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo