Kolkata: The BCCI has decided to scrap the controversial neutral venue format in the Ranji Trophy after just one season, following criticism from leading domestic players including India opener Abhinav Mukund.
The 2017-2018 Ranji Trophy starts October 6 and the decision to revert to the home-and-away format was taken by the BCCI technical committee headed by former India captain Sourav Ganguly.
Another notable decision taken was dividing 28 teams into four groups of seven instead of usual three groups.
The committee took the expected call after receiving overwhelmingly negative feedback from the coaches and players at its Annual Conclave in Mumbai, earlier this year.
“However, the knock out matches will continue to be at neutral venues,” said BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary, who convened the meeting.
The neutral venue concept was tested last season with the approval of the Ganguly-led technical committee.
Players not only played in front of empty stands, they also faced lack of apathy from the host association. Besides, there were logistical hassles.
“We have reverted to home and away format because of logistical reasons, even the players and captains wanted this,” said Ganguly.
“The matches will be less now, it was becoming too long a season. Associations also wanted to see their teams play at the home venue. It was on a trial basis and now we wanted to go back to original format,” he added.
With the addition of Chattisgarh, 28 teams were last year divided into nine teams each in group A and B and 10 teams including debutants Chattisgarh in group C.
From now on, there will be groups A, B, C and D with seven teams who will be playing six league games.
The top two teams from each group will qualify for the quarterfinals.
It is a change from last season, where teams in Group A and B played eight games while the ones in Group C played nine. However, only two teams qualified from Group C and three each from the other groups.
BCCI acting secretary Choudhary also added that pink ball experiment in Duleep Trophy will continue.
“We will continue with pink ball in Duleep Trophy, because any new practice has to be given a proper chance. Our effort will be to make most of the experiment at day and night games,” he said.
BCCI had thought of hosting its first ever day-night Test last season before dropping the idea.