There was a time when the domestic cricket calendar in India was almost as important as the Test matches. Due care was given to the schedule of the Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy, Deodhar Trophy matches, and so on, the stars would regularly take part and crowds thronged the stadiums. Slowly with the surfeit of international games, domestic cricket became a poor cousin and with time virtually lost its relevance even if they were conducted as a formality with the stars giving the games a miss and the cricketers playing to empty stands.

Finally the unthinkable may have happened. The BCCI has said that the domestic season could be curtailed even further by the fallout of the Covid-19 situation with a planned start in November looking extremely doubtful. Indeed they have also warned that it is possible there will be no domestic season at all though they have given the slim hope at the same time that there could be a start in December – January. Initially, the tentative domestic programme drawn up had just two tournaments – the Ranji Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T-20 tournaments. The plan was to spread them out from November to March. But the postponement of the IPL put a spanner in the works. So now the BCCI is fully focused on the IPL which will run from September 19 to November 10 in the UAE. And with there being no let-up in the COVID – 19 cases it is quite likely that there could be no domestic cricket at all. It may be an unbelievable scenario particularly not having the Ranji Trophy which has been played every year since 1934-35 and is clearly the most significant domestic competition when it comes to history and tradition. Also, the obvious implication of such an eventuality is that it could hurt India when it comes to preparing for international events particularly the Under-19 team. It will also clearly be a major disappointment for cricketers not to play in India’s most prestigious domestic tournament.

Actually the situation percolates to the state level since every state has had problems with Covid-19. There has been little cricket played in the various states for understandable reasons. Under normal circumstances even if the season starts around October the process commences in May – June in terms of selecting probables, getting them to train and getting the grounds ready. Unfortunately this season because of the pandemic no state association has been able to prepare for domestic cricket. In the circumstances, the fear is that even if there is some cricket played the quality will be affected.

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