England may have won the Cricket World Cup this year, but it will never take football’s place in this country. India, on the other hand, glorifies cricket as their religion, which has brought effective changes in the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI). Surprisingly this governing body is not only the wealthiest cricket board in the world but is also more potent than the International Cricket Council (ICC). England still has a lot to learn in their own game even after lifting the 2019 Cricket World Cup, perhaps from a nation who popularised it.
India’s cricket structure is divided into four parts: The Under-19, Ranji trophy (domestic league), Indian Premier League (IPL) and the national team. The Ranji trophy is similar to the county cricket played in England, representing the first-class domestic cricket competition.
Sangram Singh played ten years in the Ranji tournament for team Himachal Pradesh, an experience that has enlightened him about the functioning and development of the Indian cricket board and its branches. He was a prolific batsman during his time and shared the pitch with some notable stars.
“Luckily I have played with all the international Indian players from 1996 to 2010 that include veterans like Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid to new generation heroes like Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan,” Singh told SportyCorner.
Cricket players in India are never off from the sport as they can always re-join their respective Ranji teams when not on international duty. This provides a flexible schedule for busy players due to free entry and exit pass.
Over the years, the BCCI has provided a better pay scale and facilities to this top-class domestic segment of Indian cricket to preserve its standards within all the thirty-seven teams participating.
“Nowadays, the coaches in Ranji trophy are ex-players and have represented India at some point of time. They bring with them a lot of experience and their take on guiding players to become a complete version of themselves,” explained Singh.
The Ranji trophy was based on a zonal system competition until the 2002-03 season, but it is now broken down into a three-tier system which is divided into the plate, elite A and elite B groups. However, two teams from each segment get promoted and relegated each year among themselves.
“My time as a player was excellent and competitive in a zonal system competition that advanced to the quarterfinal and semi-final stage.”
A lot of Ranji trophy players are also playing in the IPL, which makes these competitions correlated in the sphere of identifying new talents and help them reach their true potential.
Mayank Dagar is one such player who has secured a place in the King’s X1 Punjab franchise after playing for India’s Under-19 and the Himachal Pradesh team.
“IPL is a steppingstone to play for the national team, and good Ranji trophy performances help to secure a birth in it,” Singh pointed out.
The IPL is a refined version of the NatWest T20 Blast that not only pumps money into India’s cricketing sector but also promotes young players to step up at the international stage and make a name for themselves. The fact that big names from different countries are playing together in a team increases its popularity and fan base.
Therefore, India’s four-dimensional structure is like a ladder one needs to climb to play for the country. It is not as easy as it sounds due to fierce competition that calls for players to be at the top of their game. The journey usually starts from the Under-19 squad but establishing oneself as a regular Ranji player paves the way for a prosperous career. The English cricket leagues might not be as popular as the ones in India, but they do have a lot of scopes to improve their standards with some adequate adjustments in the domestic sector.