New Delhi, Jan 17: From the first two rounds of the ongoing 2023/24 Ranji Trophy, a pattern which has stood out has been the inclement weather affecting various matches at many venues, especially in north and north-east parts of India.
Bad weather had affected the Haryana-Rajasthan first-round match at the Chaudhry Bansi Lal Cricket Stadium, Lahli, with the hosts’ first innings left unfinished. The Jammu & Kashmir-Himachal Pradesh game at the Hostel Ground JKCA was also affected by bad weather, though the visitors’ managed to take a first-innings lead.
In the second round of the competition, bad weather forced day four of the Uttar Pradesh-Bengal game at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur to be completely called off, ending the match in a draw, with the visitors’ taking first-innings lead.
At the MBB Stadium in Agartala, the Tamil Nadu-Tripura match ended in a draw. Only 51 overs were bowled across four days, including two days having no play due to fog and inclement weather.
Similar situation happened in the Jammu & Kashmir-Delhi game at Jammu, where only 42 overs of play was possible across four days due to fog and bad weather. Inclement weather also affected the Punjab-Railways game at Mullanpur and Assam-Kerala match in Guwahati, though Railways and Kerala ended up taking first-innings leads.
All these instances pose a question of whether the scheduling of matches in these regions, especially in biting cold conditions, could have been better, which in turn would have avoided loss of precious game time for various teams.
Speaking exclusively to IANS, Mithun Manhas, a member of the sub-committee of the Jammu & Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA), said, “It’s tough because one of the U23 games has also been hampered, and I am at that ground, though the second one is going on. But as far as the weather is concerned, you can’t help it.”
“Generally, the weather is clear and it is a rare occasion to see a situation like this. Otherwise, you approximately have 60-70 overs played in a day here, which is still okay. But the weather in the last two (Ranji Trophy) games has been really bad.”
IANS also reached out to venue associations where games were affected in the second round for a response, but they refused to comment on the matter. Manhas, who oversees Cricket Operations & Development at JKCA, stated the BCCI has always taken suggestions from teams over scheduling of games in various months while making the schedule.
“Yes, they do have a meeting with every association, like calling the captain and coach and discuss with them, which is a very good thing to do instead of calling the officials. When I was the captain, we used to sit with the committees and interact with people like Sourav Ganguly, who would listen to you and whichever points were valid, they would understand and make adjustments accordingly.”
Manhas, who represented Jammu & Kashmir and Delhi in his domestic cricket career, feels the next season should begin with Ranji Trophy so that its matches aren’t affected by inclement weather. “What I think is, because of the (2023 ODI) World Cup schedule, that’s why we had T20s and one-day games earlier, like it was in the last season or the previous one. Earlier, the season would begin with the Ranji Trophy.”
“So, if this can be done in the next season, it would be great. This is what I feel and then one-days or T20s can happen later. India is huge and we are playing at every venue, so it becomes difficult to accommodate as cricket has become so big that it happens throughout the year now.”
“But I am sure that in the next season, it will start off with days cricket first, then one-days and T20s so that we can have a lot more games when such weather conditions are not there.”
With just two points from its first two games, Jammu & Kashmir have a task at their hands: of collecting as many points as possible from its upcoming away games in Cuttack and Baroda, followed by a home match in Jammu next month and an away game in Puducherry, if they are to enter the Ranji Trophy knockouts.
“The game is all about handling pressure. The better you handle it; the higher you rise. But there are a lot of permutations and combinations which go into it. Like, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and J&K are in the same pool. It depends on how your standings were last year and the pools were formed because of that, which is okay.”
“But now that this (matches being hampered by inclement weather) has happened, we need to be careful, learn and make adjustments accordingly. We have witnessed no (completed) game here, and we wanted to play. Plus, we were in a good situation (against Delhi), though we were not good in the other game (against HP).”
“Still, we would long for results to happen in these (upcoming) games and that’s how the players learn. But then the weather conditions aren’t in anyone’s control, thus can’t do much about it. So that becomes part and parcel of the game, and with 30-34 teams playing, some of those games will be hampered.”
“We have been here on the ground; there has been light visibility and other issues as well. So, we have been trying and whenever the meeting happens ahead of next season, we will bring up this scenario and amends should be made,” concluded Manhas. (IANS)