RANJI TROPHY is also known as first-class domestic competition. In July 1934 the championship was launched as “the cricket championship of India”. It was conceptualized in a meeting by the board of control for cricket in India (BCCI). The first trophy was gifted by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala. 1st match was held on 4th Nov 1934. After that, there were a series of matches that took place under this championship trophy.
At present, 28 teams are participating in the Ranji trophy. They are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Baroda, Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka /Mysore, Kerala/Travancore-Cochin, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mumbai/Bombay, Odisha, Punjab, Railways, Rajasthan/ Rajputana, Saurashtra/ Nawanagar, services/army, Tamil Nadu/Madras, Tripura Uttar Pradesh/united provinces, Vidarbha.
Importance of Ranji Trophy Cricket in India
In India, the Ranji trophy is very important for those who want to make their career in cricket. The Ranji trophy is named after 1st Indian cricketer who played international cricket, “Ranjit Singh”. It is a platform that gives a chance to new players to prove their talent in cricket. The main motive of the Ranji trophy is to promote CRICKET at the regional level.
Ranji trophy is always the most important platform in judging the quality of a player’s cricket in our country. Players who will be playing for the national team are selected based on their performance in the Ranji trophy.
Importance in Selection for National Cricket Team
Quite often, the individual performances in Ranji trophy matches are taken very seriously by selectors. It provides great chances to new players, who played well in District Level Cricket, to showcase their talent now at the state level.
However, like most other institutions, Ranji has been marred in many controversies that arise from time to time. Sometimes selectors get blamed for wrong selection or sometimes for ignoring good players. Quite recently, Ravindra Jadeja had lost his place in the team due to a string of poor performances but has earned a test call back against South Africa for taking the most number of wickets so far in the ongoing Ranji series. While the performance of Jadeja could not be overlooked by the selectors, there are other players, who have been consistently doing well in the Ranji trophy but are not considered by selectors. It resulted in India’s poor bowling performance in the series against South Africa. Some of these players could even act as replacements.
Mode of Operation
Until the 2001 season, the teams were divided geographically into four or five zones – North, West, East, and South, with Central, added in 1952–53. Initially, matches were being played within the zones on a knock-out basis till 1956–57. From them on a league basis, to determine the winner. After that, the five individual zone winners competed in a knock-out tournament, leading to a final which decided the winner of the Ranji Trophy. From 1970–71 season, the knock-out stage was expanded to the top two teams from each zone. This was again increased to the top three from every zone in 1992–93.
The format was changed in the year 2002 where the zonal system got abandoned and a new two-division organization adopted – The Elite Group, containing fifteen teams and the Plate Group, containing the rest. All groups had two sub-groups which played a round-robin mode; then the top two from the Elite sub-group participated in a four-team knock-out tournament to decide the final winner of the Ranji Trophy. The team that finished last in the Elite sub-group gets relegated, and both the finalists of the Plate Group are promoted for the following season. In the next season (2006-07) the divisions were again labeled the Super League and Plate League respectively.
In the 2012–13 season, this format was slightly adjusted. The Super League and Plate League names were removed, but the two-tier system continued. The top tier increased from fifteen teams to eighteen teams, in two sub-groups of nine (known as Group A and Group B, and considered equal in status); and the second tier was decreased to nine teams in a single group (known as Group C). The first three teams from Groups A and Groups B and the top two from Group C contested in the knockout phase. The lowest placed team in each of Group A and Group B is downgraded to Group C, and the top two from Group C are advanced to the top tier.
In the 2017-18 season, the two-tier system was discarded to have 4 groups of seven teams each and two quarter-finalists from every group.
In the 2018-19 season, the teams participated in three-tiers. From them, five teams will qualify for the quarter-finals from the top tier (known as Elite Group A and Group B). Two teams will be eligible from the second-tier (Elite Group C) and One team from the lower-tier (Plate Group) for the quarter-finals.
Round-robin matches are played for four days; knockout matches are played for five days. Throughout its history, if there is no outright result in a Ranji Trophy knock-out match, the team that is leading after the first innings is the winner.
Before 2016–17 season matches were played at the home ground of one of the two teams taking part. For the 2016–17 contest the BCCI decided that all games would be staged at a common venue.
However, not all states have their won Ranji team. Below states are not represented in Ranji Trophy:
Chattisgarh made its Ranji Trophy debut in the 2016–17 season.
Hence it will be safe to conclude that the Ranji trophy has high importance in our country. It can be considered as career decider for players. Not only is there a sense of achievement for playing for your state at the state-level, but the system also makes sure only the best of the talent with consistent performance reaches the top echelons of the Indian National Cricket Team.