The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is contemplating paying the players even if domestic tournaments are scrapped off this year. The board is currently undecided between hosting Ranji Trophy or paying the players without any matches due to the coronavirus situation in the country. With COVID-19 cases on the rise, BCCI is aware that it will be a massive ask to host all domestic tournaments in bio-secure bubbles this year.
The board’s priority is to pay domestic players irrespective of the tournaments being held. However, the decision cannot be taken in haste and has its own set of challenges which the BCCI is currently looking to sort out. One of the biggest challenges for the board is the hassle on how to decide which players are to be paid as there will not be any selection of teams if matches are not played.
Sources in the know-how of things suggest that BCCI can do away with domestic tournaments this year unlike IPL, which is a major source of earning for the board. While IPL is based on a business model, BCCI doesn’t earn much revenue from domestic tournaments. The likes of Ranji Trophy, Duleep trophy, and other tournaments are sustained to keep the strong domestic cricket culture going in the country and to develop talent at the grassroots level.
“Just because the IPL was conducted, doesn’t mean BCCI has to take the pressure of conducting Ranji Trophy. IPL players can’t be paid if there’s no IPL. But Ranji cricketers can be paid, even if there’s no Ranji. You can create a bio-bubble for eight franchises. But for 38 teams, it’ll be a nightmare. If something goes wrong, who is going to take responsibility?” a source was quoted as saying.
Despite being wary of the bad press the move to scrap Ranji Trophy and other domestic tournaments can get BCCI, the board is not ready to put lives of hundreds of players at risk for the sake of conducting cricket.
“That money comes from IPL, therefore it is important from revenue perspective. BCCI is worried it’ll get bad press if Ranji is not hosted because it’ll be seen as if they only want to earn money. But to justify that, hundreds of players can’t be risked. Just distribute the money and stay safe,” a source told TOI.
BCCI secretary Jay Shah has written to the state associations asking for suggestions and has also been taking tours at stadiums to inspect the infrastructure and facilities if the Ranji Trophy is to be held this year. BCCI is keen on hosting the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament to ensure more talent can be scouted ahead of IPL 2021, where the addition of a new team is a strong possibility.